What We Do

Hospital Facility Dog Program

What is it?

Shine On! Kids’ Hospital Facility Dog Program pairs a “Facility Dog”—a dog that has been specially trained for 18-24 months to international service dog standards to work in a children’s hospital—with a “Clinician Handler,” a medical professional who has acquired the knowledge and skills for handling the Facility Dog. Together they work every day at a single children’s hospital as part of the medical team, supporting the care of the sickest pediatric patients. All of Shine On! Kids’ Hospital Facility Dog handlers are certified nurses with years of clinical experience.

Because the handler is a medical professional, they:

  • Have access to medical records to better plan interventions
  • Understand the specific challenges of each patient’s current condition
  • Understand the special care needed in managing the dog around the patient
  • Are accustomed to implementing strict infection control protocols
  • Have experience supporting very ill patients and family members

Some activities include:

  • Visiting individual patients’ bedsides
  • Walking/riding with patients to surgery
  • Sitting with patients during a variety of medical procedures, such as lumbar punctures
  • Working with patients during rehab
  • Crawling into bed and helping distressed children fall asleep
  • Comforting family members
  • Supporting the medical and hospital staff

How does it work?

How is a Hospital Facility Dog different from a Therapy Dog?

Our Hospital Facility Dogs go to the hospital every day, just like medical staff, and work with patients on a regular and ongoing basis. As a result, patients develop a true relationship with the dog. The dog team can visit a child’s bedside, sit with 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. The patients and their families look forward to seeing the dog everyday—and this anticipation and becomes a huge source of positivity and encouragement for children and adults alike, especially during tough medical treatments. Children often say they can handle scary and really uncomfortable treatments, tests, and operations if our dog is there!

Also, because of the Hospital Facility Dog Team’s special training, they can work with medical staff to plan, implement, and achieve specific psychological and physical therapy goals. Observing daily patient interactions, hospital staff, caregivers, and family members can quickly understand the Hospital Facility Dog’s impact on a child’s treatment journey. And of course, there is one more advantage—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!


  • 2008: Start of introduction program
  • 2010: Bailey begins at Shizuoka Children’s Hospital
  • 2012: Yogi begins at Shizuoka Children’s Hospital
  • 2012: Bailey moves to Kanagawa Children’s Medical Center
  • 2017: Annie begins at Kanagawa Children’s Medical Center in preparation for Bailey’s retirement
  • 2018: Bailey retires from Kanagawa Children’s Medical Center (watch HERE)
  • 2019: Puppies Ty and Masa begin training in Tokyo (read more HERE)
  • 2019: Ivy begins at Tokyo Metropolitan Children’s Medical Center (watch HERE)
  • 2020: Bailey, the first Facility Dog in Japan, left us
    (watch his beautiful tribute
  • 2021: Yogi retires from Shizuoka Children’s Hospital (watch HERE)
  • 2021: Ty begins at Shizuoka Children’s Hospital
  • 2021: Masa begins at the National Center for Child Health and Development

Thanks to Shine On! Kids’ rigorous infection control policies and procedures, no cases of infection or allergy-related incidents have occurred since the program’s inception.

How to Support Us

Our vision is for ALL children’s hospitals in Japan to have at least one Hospital Facility Dog Team. This is a big dream that requires Shine On! Kids to secure its own supply of expertly trained Hospital Facility Dogs and nurse-handlers—which is exactly what we did in 2019 with the launch of our Puppy Training Program!

However, this was just the first tiny step toward our goal of creating our own training center and team of instructors! Help us make Hospital Facility Dogs part of standard of care in Japan!

Donate today!

Here are some ways your donation makes a difference

¥3,000: Shampoo to keep our dogs clean and safe for their work

¥35,000: Dog food, treats and supplements for one month

¥125,000: 60 patient visits

¥500,000: Cost of a brand-new puppy, specially bred for service dog work, to be delivered to Japan for training


Donate Now


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.