Casper - A day in the life of a facility dog

Love for Casper

As Children’s first full-time facility dog, Casper is at Children’s at Scottish Rite five days a week, sharing hope, happiness and inspiration.

6:30 a.m. – At home, Casper is dressed for work sporting a vest that reads, "I’m friendly. Ask to pet me.” As Lisa Kinsel, Manager, Volunteer Services, Children’s at Scottish Rite, explains, “Like all service dogs, when he puts on that vest, he knows it’s time to work.”

7:30 a.m. – In the Children’s at Scottish Rite lobby, Casper attracts many people, but keeps from getting overwhelmed. "Casper had 18 months of intensive training, so he’s well prepared for his job,” Kinsel says.

8:02 a.m. – Casper visits common areas and, unlike other pet therapy programs, may see approved patients in their rooms. Casper follows specific hygiene guidelines.

8:15 a.m. – Undergoing EEG monitoring in her bed, 12-year-old patient Emily is experiencing some discomfort. Casper hops in bed for a treat and a visit. Emily’s fright is replaced by delighted giggles. "Casper is the only thing that took Emily’s mind off her pain and her problems," says her mother. "It’s amazing to see an animal have such an impact on a child’s well-being and ability to cope."

11:02 a.m. – In the halls, staff pet Casper and sing his therapeutic praises. "He motivates patients in ways we can’t,” says a nurse. "He’s a phenomenal contribution to our patients’ overall social, physical and emotional development.”

11:45 a.m. – In rehab, 8-year-old Jeremy has difficulty moving his arms. When Casper's guide explains he needs to be brushed, Jeremy finds his motivation. He reaches out, grasps the brush, then slowly strokes Casper’s coat. For Jeremy—and his therapists—it’s a real breakthrough.

12:23 p.m. – Casper joins in the cafeteria for lunch, but never mooches.

2:29 p.m. – In the TICU, the staff welcomes Casper with cheers. “Casper’s effect on staff was a big surprise,” Kinsel says. “One nurse told me being with Casper recently helped her through the loss of a patient. He instantly lifts your spirits, something everyone here appreciates.”

3:41 p.m. – Anna has cerebral palsy—her active mind tied to machines, her expression blank. With mom’s approval, Kinsel squirts cheese on Anna’s hand for Casper to lick. As a smile spreads across Anna’s face, it brings tears to her nurse’s eyes. "I’ve never seen her smile," she whispers in awe.

4:15 p.m. – Walking through Radiology, Casper attracts more admirers and provides a happy distraction for families. Back in Volunteer Services, he takes a well-deserved rest while Kinsel finishes work.

6:45 p.m. – Arriving home, Kinsel takes off Casper’s vest, and he is transformed from a dog working to a dog playing. Casper races to the backyard, then wriggles belly-up in the grass. As he burns off his last bit of energy, Kinsel smiles. "Some service dogs are perfect for turning on light switches or helping people with other day-to-day tasks, but Casper’s calling is sharing love and affection. I knew as soon as I met him that he was the perfect dog for Children’s."