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A New Addition to the Family

We are pleased to announce the addition of our first full-time facility dog to the Child Life department. Meet Brea (pronounced Bray-UH), an expertly trained two-year-old canine who provides comfort, support and serves as a friendly distraction for children during procedures and throughout their hospitalization.

Leah Frohnerath, M.S., C.C.L.S., was carefully matched with Brea by the professionals at Canine Companions for Independence who have bred, raised and trained facility dogs in a clinical setting since 1975. She will serve as our first certified child life specialist facility dog handler, providing services to patients and families in partnership with Brea.

Training, Coverage Areas and More

Facility dogs are trained to assist with goal-oriented interventions and address the physical and psychological needs of patients, families and staff. Brea will primarily assist Frohnerath on 7 South, CVICU, Infusion Center, PICU and Radiology. Together, they’ll deliver child life services to patients in an effort to achieve clinical goals.

Separate from our current Pet Therapy program, a facility dog brings additional patient benefits:

  • A Familiar Face. Consistently seeing Brea makes it easier for patients to bond, provides comfort to families during difficult times, eases fears and helps make meaningful memories at the hospital.
  • Access to Care. Facility dogs are allowed to go places therapy dogs can’t. To lend a furry paw or serve as a friendly distraction during stressful or uncomfortable situations, Brea and Frohnerath can help prepare and be present during procedures such as pokes, line pulls, imaging studies and more.
  • Availability. Brea works 40-hour weeks, which means she can increase her frequency and accommodate longer visits with patients. Spending additional time together makes a significant impact on children and can be used as a great motivational tool.

Manners, please. Here’s some helpful tips when interacting with Brea:

  • Sorry, no treats.
  • Interested in a quick pet? Always ask in advance and be sure to practice good hand hygiene before and after petting.
  • Do not promise Brea to patients and families.
  • Frohnerath is a pro. Please do not interfere with corrections.

All About Brea

The launch of the Facility Dog program and partnership with Brea was made possible by a philanthropic Foundation donor. Before coming to Johns Hopkins All Children’s, her 2-year specialized training at Canine Companions for Independence started after she was matched and puppy raised by an inmate at Gadsden Correctional Facility, a state prison for women. Her journey continued with 10-months of socialization in a private home before returning to CCI to finish her professional training.

We’re not the only ones who gained a cool new companion. After Brea clocks out, she goes home to the Frohnerath family to decompress and enjoy the many perks of being a dog. It’s all about work-life balance.