Good Dog: Our Caring Canines Bring a Dose of Cheer Year-Round

By Jennifer Castoro,

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


The loving pets in our therapy dog program offer comfort to patients and their families.

There are few things in this world that predictably make almost anyone smile. Some of the cutest examples of those things can be found trotting down the halls of Memorial Sloan Kettering, dispersing snuggles and petting opportunities to anyone in need of a little furry pick-me-up.

Since its founding seven years ago, our therapy dog program, Caring Canines, has brought comfort and cheer to countless patients, family members, guests, and staff at MSK. In 2014 alone, our team of 20 dogs made more than 3,500 patient visits. Pups make the rounds on designated days of the week as well as holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve.

Beyond just offering a break from the routines of hospital life, interacting with a therapy dog can help lessen anxiety and distress, reduce the need for pain medication, give emotional support, and provide a welcome distraction for patients and caregivers alike.

All Caring Canines teams adhere to strict hygiene guidelines to ensure patients’ safety (and all dogs wear their own ID badges). Before they’re chosen to join the pack, handlers must complete training with one of three nationally recognized dog-therapy organizations and go through an interview process. Canine volunteers are observed for behavior to ensure they’ll be comfortable with patients in a hospital setting.

Another perk of the program is the chance to star in our yearly calendar — the 2015 version of which is now available to patients who schedule a visit with one of our four-legged friends. You can pick up your own copy for a small donation at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Gift Shop. All proceeds go to the Caring Canines program.


What a wonderful program to have at MSKCC! Thank God for the work the handlers do with their dogs!

I love the fact that the animals are finally considered a prt of getting well again.I am a cna looking for full time work at Memorial.I am also a vet assistant and would appreciate someone contacting me if I can get employment in this field.It would certainly be the best of two worlds for me Thank you P.S. I also worked in admitting in Memorial in NYC for 10 years and left in 1994.Thank you again.

Mary, thank you for reaching out. To learn about opportunities for full-time work at MSK, you can check the careers area of our website at

The website also offers the chance to join our Talent Community, which allows you to receive inside info on the newest job opportunities at MSK, including anything that may be veterinary-related.

I have long known about the way in which dogs comfort their owners and it isn't a surprise to learn how wonderful they are with ill people, children with serious learning problems, etc. When I finish writing this I will reach over and pat my sleeping Boston Terrier. Good luck with that program, and puppy treats all around!

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