April 29, 2024

American Family Children’s Hospital welcomes third facility dog

Photo of the three facility dogs at American Family Children's Hospital, with their handlers
Facility dogs Kiko, Cola and Archie with their handlers at American Family Children's Hospital

MADISON, Wis. – A third canine has joined the child life staff at American Family Children’s Hospital.

The newest facility dog is named Archie. He is a 1½-year-old goldendoodle from Georgia. He is professionally trained to work in health care settings and is paired with a handler, who is a member of the child life team, to complement the team’s work supporting and uplifting children receiving care. Archie’s first day at the American Family Children’s Hospital was March 12.

Archie will work with the pediatric hematology and oncology team and will live with his handler, Maggie Goldbach, child life specialist, UW Health Kids, and come to work with her each day.

Child life specialists are trained professionals who help patients and families navigate and cope with complex medical needs during a stay at the hospital.

Archie joins Cola, a 3-year-old male lab-goldendoodle mix, who joined the staff in August 2022, and Kiko, a 4-year-old female goldendoodle, the first canine who started in September 2021.

Cola works with children who need palliative care and Kiko follows her handler to see some of the patients at the Diagnostic and Therapy Center at American Family Children’s Hospital, which is a combination of a few areas such as an infusion center, sedation clinic and radiology.

The canine child life coworkers are part of the Canine Health and Medical Pals program, known as CHAMPs, at American Family Children’s Hospital. The program is made possible because of the hospital’s partnership with Canine Assistants, a nonprofit organization in Georgia that matches facility dogs to hospital programs.

“Adding a third canine was an easy decision because we have seen the comfort Kiko and Cola bring to patients who were anxious or apprehensive about their treatment,” said Beth Rozak, director of operations at American Family Children’s Hospital. “Like any new employee, Archie is getting used to his role and it will take some time for him to get acclimated.”

The CHAMPs program is funded entirely through philanthropic donations. Archie is sponsored by the Greater Bucky Open, a fundraiser golf outing and charity concert. He was also supported by a grant from the American Cancer Society PAWS (Pups Assisting with Support) program. Cola is sponsored by the Comer Family Foundation and Kiko is sponsored by Skyjam, an anonymous donor. This program also includes a partnership with UW Veterinary Care, which cares for all three dogs’ medical and infection control needs.

This facility dog program does not replace the Caring Canines program at UW Health, which involves volunteers who provide comfort and cuddle time during a patient visit to pre approved inpatient units. Unlike the dogs with Caring Canines, facility dogs are unable to offer social visits, and instead provide customized interventions in conjunction with a patient’s coping plan. Facility dogs work 40 hours per week and are an intentional part of the child life team.