“My name is Catya and I am a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) and facility dog handler at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, MA. As a child life specialist, my goal is to reduce anxiety within the hospital through developmentally appropriate interventions and provide opportunities for play. Our facility dog’s name is Bob! A facility dog is a specially trained dog that works full-time in partnership with their specialized handler to assist in goal-based interventions.

As a team, Bob and I serve patients of all ages working throughout various hospital units, including the adult mental health unit, pediatric outpatient clinics, pediatric emergency department, adult and neonatal intensive care units. His main ‘trick’ is being calm and relaxed while he’s working, which helps anyone around him try to mirror that subconsciously.

Bob and I aim to provide a safe space for our patients to process and regulate emotions. This can be supporting a patient in the emergency department, introducing Bob to a patient’s family while they are in critical condition or even co-facilitating a group with the occupational therapist on the adult inpatient mental health unit.

While the conversation around mental health has become more prominent, our work is far from over. We should normalize seeking help for our mental health as we do for our physical health! I am able to model this in partnership with Bob. His platform has become an extension of our department, giving us the ability to provide a safe space, address misconceptions, and validate and empower others to take control of their mental health.”

Catya & Bob the Facility Dog, Massachusetts