For many of our patients, one of the bright spots of their hospital stay is having the opportunity to visit with one (or many) of our therapy dogs, part of the Paws Can Heal animal assisted therapy program at Phoenix Children’s, sponsored by PetSmart. It’s not very often that our patients get to reconnect with the therapy dogs that visited them while they were in the Hospital. However, in Alice’s case, she was one of the lucky ones that had a run in with one of our therapy dogs, Barney, in an unexpected way.

Barney AliceAlice was six weeks old when she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Now 21, she is a full-time student and a part time employee at PetSmart, where she works in the grooming salon. Little did Alice know that PetSmart is a sponsor of Paws Can Heal, the animal assisted therapy program at Phoenix Children’s. During the summer of 2014, Alice spent quite a bit of time at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, when she was having a struggle with her condition. During her stay, she had to be isolated, which meant visitors were limited. One day in August, her mom saw Barney, a St. Bernard, walking the halls, and asked Alice if she wanted to see him. Her answer was of course, yes, as she is a dog lover. Since Alice was in isolation, Barney wasn’t allowed to go inside her room, but he did wave from the door, one of his fun tricks for patients in isolation.

Several months later, while preparing her PetSmart grooming list for the day, Alice came across the name Barney, St. Bernard, and wondered if it was the same Barney that brightened her day months before. When Barney arrived, Alice asked Nicole, his owner, “Is this the Barney that visited me at Phoenix Children’s?” Sure enough, it was!

Barney, born in September, 2010, has been a therapy dog since 2012. At eight weeks old, he weighed 28 pounds, and currently tips the scales at 180 pounds. When he’s not “working,” Barney likes to play “you can’t catch me” and lounge in the pool. His favorite snacks are carrots, and his favorite football team is the Arizona Cardinals. One of Barney’s favorite things to do is play with the kids at Phoenix Children’s.

Barney, along with other members of our Paws Can Heal program, attends the Dine With Your Dog event and hopes to see his friends there again this year. Proceeds from Dine With Your Dog benefit the PetSmart Paws Can Heal program at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.