Children’s faces lit up on Wednesday when the hospital’s newest staff member trotted into the room: a 2-year-old golden retriever named Casey, the hospital’s second therapy dog.
She joins Nugget, who has been everyone’s favorite cuddler at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia at Augusta University for the past 18 months.
Casey had a welcome party on April 3, where staff and patients got their chance to meet her for the first time. (Nugget was also in attendance, of course.)
Patients Hudson Abbott and King Brown were among those who greeted Casey and welcomed her to her new “job.” Big smiles and squeals of delight were the order of the day as they played fetch with and snuggled up to the sweet pup.
Casey and her handler, child life specialist Macie Meeks have been inseparable for these past three weeks since she first started getting acclimated to the hospital.
Casey came from Canine Assistants in Alpharetta, Georgia, which trains service dogs.
“She was born there,” explained Meeks. “They’ve found it best to watch a puppy grow up and know that their temperament, their likes and dislikes will make them a good fit to be a service dog. They started acclimating her when she was very young to different places and people. … She’s been in a hospital, they’ve gotten her used to that.”
And based on her enthusiastic interaction with everyone at the party, Casey is getting used to life in the hospital very quickly.
Meeks explained the importance of service dogs. “A lot of kids have dogs at home and, especially on my floor, they can be here a week at a time, so they really miss their pets at home,” she said. “It’s good for them to see dogs; it makes them think of their pets at home and makes the hospital a little more like home.”
Having a second dog means twice as many kids can get a visit from a therapy dog each day.
So, if you come across Casey wandering the halls of the CHOG, be sure to give her a warm welcome!