SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Baystate Children’s Hospital has welcomed a new employee, with four paws!

Thursday was an exciting day for Isabela, an 18-month-old golden retriever, and is the facility’s first dog. She was accompanied by her primary handler, Amanda, who she will be living with. As Isabela made her way down the red carpet, she was greeted by applause and cheers from the crowd.

It will be her full-time job to provide animal-assisted therapy to pediatric patients, their families, and staff. “Anything that makes a child anxious, actually causes pain or stress, she is there to make them feel safe, less anxious,” expressed Pediatrician and Chief of Baystate Children’s Hospital, Dr. Charlotte Boney. “It’s really a superpower of a golden retriever and I’m just delighted we have a golden retriever.”

She joined the team as a result of a $150,000 grant from the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation. Dr. Boney added that Isabela already makes a difference in children’s lives, just 8 weeks in. Isabela comes from Canine Assistants, which has placed more than 80 facility dogs in kids’ hospitals across the country.

Local News

Kayleigh Thomas is a digital reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2022. Follow Kayleigh on X @kayleighcthomas and view her bio to see more of her work.