Caring Canines Kickoff

IMG_0747Earlier this week, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC welcomed Labradoodle, Ernie, one of our Pet Friends, to the Emergency Department. Ernie is the first dog to kick off the new volunteer program, Caring Canines. This program allows dogs to visit patient rooms throughout the Emergency Department to help comfort children during their stay.

Patients, families, and staff enjoyed having Ernie roam the halls of the Emergency Department all morning. This happy puppy greeted the patients on this floor and put an extra-large smile on their faces. Ernie enjoyed posing for countless pictures, being hugged by the children, and receiving belly rubs from the staff. Children of all ages loved Ernie’s company and kept coming back for even more puppy hugs.

A ceremony took place to celebrate the first day of Caring Canines. Doctors and nurses came to support Ernie for his first time in the Emergency Department by cutting a large, purple ribbon to honor this special day. The first day of Caring Canines was a success and brought many smiling faces to Children’s Hospital. Expect more canine visits from Ernie and other dogs very soon!

Caring Canines is part of the already established Pet Friends Volunteer Program at Children’s Hospital, a program designed to bring the comfort and support of very special dogs and their owners to children throughout the hospital. Contact between children and Pet Friends can range from simply watching a dog, to petting, cuddling, or even helping the handler walk the dog.

If you are a community member who has a dog and are interested in becoming a Pet Friends volunteer, please contact Erin Werkmeister at 412-692-6178 or e-mail at to discuss the multi-step application process.