A Family That Heals Together: Smiley Therapy Dog Works at Children's Hospital Alongside Her Doctor Parents
Idina the golden retriever splits her time between the Neurology unit and the Primary Care Clinic at Cincinnati Children's
The Greiner family is dedicated to saving lives and spreading smiles.
Couple Dr. Mary Greiner and Dr. Hans Greiner both work at Cincinnati Children’s hospital, helping kids get well as quickly as possible. Even with their hard work, staying in a hospital can be hard on anyone, no matter what age. That’s where Idina comes in.
Idina is a golden retriver trained by Canine Assistants to be a therapy dog. She recently became a part of the Animal Assisted Therapy Program at Cincinnati Children’s, joining the two other furry members of the hospital’s Child Life team: Chevy and Leica.
Though all of the dogs are great at their job, there is one thing that sets Idina (named for Frozen actress Idina Menzel) apart. Instead of living with therapy dog specialists, Idina lives with Greiners and their three sons.
Each work day, the trio goes to work together, where Idina splits her time between mom and dad. Idina and Dr. Hans attend neurology clinics and neuroscience unit appointments together. The peppy pooch helps anxious children facing potentially uncomfortable procedure feel calm and content.
“I think it becomes a positive touchstone for them. Normally whenever you go to the doctor, the thing you take away is often negative. But now when the kids come to the doctor and see the dog, that’s what they remember about it,” Dr. Hans said.
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When she is not receiving pets in Neurology, Idina can be found at the Primary Care Clinic with Dr. Mary. Here, the cheerful golden retriever meets all kinds of kids, many of whom are in foster care, but she takes the time to build special relationships with each visitor to ensure they don’t leave the hospital with a “scary” experience.
“From the moment we go into the room, instead of the doctors going into the room and the first question being what shot am I getting, is this going to hurt, is it going to be scary? Now it’s oh you have a dog, can I pet her? Their nervous energy is instead focused on petting her and being around her,” Dr. Mary shared.
Like any hard worker, Idina also makes sure she gets a little “me-time.” Each day, she enjoys lunch and recess with Chevy and Leica, getting time to play and just be a dog.
And it is simply by being herself that Idina, with help from the Greiners, can make almost any child’s day a little brighter.