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Facility Dog Program

The Shine On! Facility Dog Program

Program Summary

Goal Improving treatment outcome and improve children’s approach to medical treatment/therapy.
Need Children receiving treatment for cancer and other serious illness undergo enormous stress. A facility dog can provide great relief and encouragement during this challenging process.
Description : Japan’s first, full time Animal Assisted Therapy program at a children’s hospital.
Program Leader Yuko Morita
Term : Launched at Shizuoka Children’s Hospital in January 2010, and July 2012 in Kanagawa Children Medical Center.

Handler Yuko Morita and Bailey, Golden Retriever (male)

Handler Yuko Morita and Bailey, Golden Retriever (male)

The impact

As Yuko explains, “In the hospital, we visit children’s rooms and encourage the patients to pet Bailey/Yogi and/or play with a ball. Sometimes Bailey/Yogi goes onto a child’s bed to sleep beside them. Bailey/Yogi often sit with a patient during difficult treatments procedures and even walk together with a patient to the operating room.

When children meet Bailey/Yogi, it is just amazing how everything about them changes – they completely relax, they become happy! We hear so many comments like,’With Bailey, I can overcome painful and tough treatments.”If Yogi is with me, I can undergo an operation.’

The facility dog supports not only patients but their families, too.And I also often hear that that a facility dog provides affection and comfort to people working in the hospital – easing stress or tension at hospital and improving the work environment.”

About the Program

A first in Japan and a first in the world!

Not only is the Shine On! Facility Dog Program the first of it’s kind in Japan, but in one sense it’s also a pioneer in the world! The Shine On! Facility Dog Program uses full-time nurses, employed by Shine On! Kids, to handle its dogs.

Unlike in other countries, where regular hospital staff, such as doctors and nurses, take the facility dog around with them during their usual work (which is also a great thing!), our nurse-handlers ONLY focus on their work with the facility dog. They do not have regular nursing duties, rather, they make rounds to different wards, consult with medical teams on needs and goals for certain visits, make emergency visits and even very special end-of-life visits. Because they are dedicated nurse-handlers, they can maximize the visiting time and impact of the visit with each child. Hence, the Shine On! Facility Dog program is truly becoming a new model for the world.

What is a Facility Dog?

A facility dog is a kind of specially trained therapy dog that provides love and companionship to patients at hospitals.

Facility dogs (unlike usual hospital visiting therapy dogs) work full time and live with a staff member who receives intensive training and is certified in Animal Assisted Therapy. Patients are encouraged and comforted by the dog’s wonderful, non-judgmental nature and benefit both physically and emotionally from their daily interactions with these very special dogs.

What makes working with a facility dog different?

Facility dogs go to the hospital everyday just like medical staff and work with patients on a regular and ongoing basis. As a result, patients are able to develop a true relationship with the dog. The facility dog can visit a child bedside, sit next to them during a scary or painful medical procedure or test, or even go to the ICU and get on a bed and sleep next to a child who is unable to move. Emotionally, the patients look forward to seeing the dog everyday, which can be a huge source of encouragement especially during tough medical treatments.

Also, because of the dog’s and the handler’s special training, they can actually work as a team with medical staff to plan, implement and achieve specific psychological and physical therapy goals (Animal Assisted Therapy). By working with patients everyday, hospital staff, caregivers and family come to view and respect the facility dog’s impact on a child’s treatment journey. And of course there is one more advantage to a full-time facility dog – he or she makes EVERYONE in the hospital smile – from people working in administration and management to the doctors and nurses. And a happy hospital staff is a very important and positive thing!

Support the Facility Dog Program

Select your desired amount to make an automatic payment via PayPal (can be cancelled any time prior to each payment date. Please contact us at donation@sokids.org.)



This year 800 bedside visits by Bailey and Yogi are supported by
  • SAI Inc.
  • Pieroth Japan K.K.
  • The Caldwell Family
  • The Hall Family
Half of this year’s food and health expenses for Bailey and Yogi are supported by
  • Kidzania
  • The Abdul Aziz Family
  • The Alamprese Family
  • The Conzato Family
  • The Eadon-Clarke Family
  • The Marchand Family
  • The Ohama Family
  • The Pitra Family
  • The Regent Family
  • The Shah Family
  • The Solomon/Blank Family

Special Thanks

We would like to extend our deepest thanks to Takayuki Kumasaka of the Nursing Studies Department, Faculty of Health Studies, Japan University of Health Sciences, and Dr. Hideo Masu, University of Tsukuba, Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences Assistant Professor, for their advice and support in starting this program.


For any inquiries regarding this program, please do not contact the above-mentioned hospitals directly. Contact Shine On! Kids via info@sokids.org.


Bailey and Yogi receive regular medical checks and immunization at Kimata Animal Hospital (Hamamatsu city Shizuoka) and other hospitals.

Learn more

Meet the Teams

Hear from Program Leader, Yuko Morita in an extended video about the ground breaking work she and Bailey are doing with the Facility Dog Program. Learn more about how the dogs are selected and what kind of training the team receive from Mo Mauer, Director, Assistance Dogs Hawaii.

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  1. 志田直人 says:

    ^_^ 理屈ではないんですね。いまは、応援する事で力になりたい。

  2. Young-shin Ra says:

    It is really great work for sick kids. Congratultions for therapy dogs, Bailey and Yogi and all staffs of the Tyler foundation to help them. I watched a therapy dog while I visited Shizuoka Childrens hospital in January 2013. I like to introduce this dog to help Korean Kids at the hospital future.