Sometimes, the quiet comfort provided by a furry friend can calm nerves and distract a child from medical treatments, and the health benefits may be measured in lowered blood pressure and improved recovery times. At the very least, a visit from a loving dog can make an unfamiliar place feel a little more familiar.

The Buddy Brigade, with a roster of retrievers, poodles, shelties and shepherds, among others, visits patients at the bedside on designated days with their handlers. All of the dogs have been certified by either Therapy Dog International, Alliance of Therapy Dogs or Pet Partners, and have been thoroughly trained and evaluated to work with children. All go through a rigorous behavioral and physical screening process.

Each patient’s health status must be reviewed before a pet therapy visit to determine eligibility.

If you think your child would enjoy a visit by a member of the Buddy Brigade, contact your child’s bedside nurse or a Child Life staff member.

The Buddy Brigade is CHKD’s special team of “pet therapists,” lovable and well-mannered dogs who provide emotional and motivational support – and doggone fun visits – to hospitalized children.

For more information about CHKD’s pet therapy program or to volunteer, call the volunteer department at (757) 668-7195. Help support our pet therapy program by sponsoring one - or more - of our dogs through our Adopt a Buddy program

CHKD's Buddy Brigade Looking to Expand

The CHKD Buddy Brigade pet therapy program is looking to fill a few permanent openings and generate a larger pool of substitute teams.

Please note the following requirements:

All dogs must have a current and valid membership with one of the primary national pet certification organizations (TDI, Alliance of Therapy Dogs or Pet Partners). There are no exceptions, as this membership provides you with the required liability insurance to visit with patients at our hospital. We cannot consider your dog unless this certification step has already been completed.

In addition to certification membership, volunteer handlers are required to complete the regular volunteer application process at CHKD. Please submit an online volunteer application. New pet therapy teams will be offered positions based on their application, experience, availability, personal interview and on-site dog evaluation. An application does not guarantee placement.

Questions? Please contact volunteer services at (757) 668-7195 or email