Though most people say that “laughter is the best medicine”, young hospital patients often find more joy in a wagging tail.

So as a means of providing happiness and healing to thousands of pediatric patients, Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins are spending $2 million to bring full-time therapy dogs into American hospitals.

The Joy in Childhood Foundation, the independent charity that is powered by the two restaurant chains, is launching Dogs for Joy, a program to bring in-residence pups that are bred and trained as service dogs to “work” full-time in children’s hospitals across the nation.

The ‘facility dogs’ will offer distraction, motivation and joy to patients and families while simultaneously lowering stress and anxiety for pediatric patients and encouraging them to complete their health care goals. Additionally, in-residence dogs can be trained to keep kids calm during medical interventions, teach patients how to take medication, or demonstrate how to put on a hospital gown.

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This type of in-hospital program is relatively new, and out of more than 220 children’s hospitals in the United States, very few have them. The groundbreaking Dogs for Joy initiative will provide grants to launch a new in-residence dog program or maintain an existing one, covering costs like adoption fees, staff training, and canine care supplies like food, grooming tools, and toys.


“Our mission is to bring joy to kids in truly meaningful ways,” said Kari McHugh, Executive Director of the Joy in Childhood Foundation. “As a mother who has cared for a child with cancer, my family and I know well the happiness these dogs create on even the worst days, and the powerful, positive impact a relationship with a dog can make.”

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The first hospital to receive a grant is the Cleveland Clinic Children’s in Ohio—$150,000 to fund a new program employing two therapy pups for three years.

Children’s hospitals across the US are invited to apply for a grant on the foundation’s website before the cut-off deadline on March 31st, 2019.

(WATCH the video below) – Photos by Joy in Childhood Foundation

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