MultiCare’s furry, four-legged companion
By Kortney Scroger
There are a lot of things that make the Safe and Sound building a special place on the Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital campus, but none are as sweet (or as fluffy) as their four-legged ally, Daze.
Daze was born in Santa Rosa, California, at the Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) National Headquarters. She spent her first 18 months of life training with her assigned “puppy raiser,” accompanying her to work at a middle school.
After two years of training, Daze traveled to her forever home with Jody Hawthorne, Manager of Community Services at Mary Bridge, where she reported for duty as the facility dog for the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) of Pierce County.
Daze is a bit of a celebrity. You may have seen her at various Mary Bridge events, or walking around Wright Park when the sun is shining. But don’t let that fool you — she means business.
“Daze’s whole life has been about being a working dog,” Hawthorne says.
Her job is simple: to provide comfort. Last year alone, more than 1,000 children received services through the CAC. When a forensic interview was required, Daze was available to provide companionship.
“Because children are not here by choice, we try to provide them with as many choices as possible when they are at the center,” Hawthorne explains. “We ask them if they want to meet Daze and play a game.”
Some of those games include putting together puzzles (with Daze’s help) or rolling dice. The child is then asked if they want Daze to be with them during the interview and whether Daze should sit next to them on the bench or by their feet. The CAC interviews children ages 3-14. With older children, these interviews can be up to two hours long.
“I think there’s a certain level of comfort that dogs provide people,” Hawthorne explains. “There’s a physiological response to being in the presence of a dog. Your breathing slows, you relax. Having the dog next to a child talking about something traumatic helps them.”
Since her adoption date on May 13, 2016, Daze has sat with 378 children to give them reprieve from their traumatic experiences. She’s also available for meet-and-greets with children who receive a medical exam through the Child Abuse Intervention Department (CAID).
Mary Bridge community services like CAID support countless children and families in the South Sound. These services are made possible thanks to donor contributions.
“I have the good fortune of seeing kids come through the door and seeing that we are making a difference in their lives,” Hawthorne explains. “The donors don’t get to see that, but they have trust in the work we do. I can tell you, with no doubt, every single dollar donated goes towards excellent care for these kids.”
When asked what they love most about Daze, children often comment on how soft she is.
“The thing I most appreciate about having Daze is that when kids leave the center, they are thinking about her,” Hawthorne says. “They aren’t thinking about their forensic interview; they aren’t thinking about trauma or their exam — they are thinking about Daze. I feel good knowing that kids are leaving with good thoughts.”
Hawthorne says that whenever she’s having a particularly difficult day, she reads cards that children have written to Daze.
On April 20, Daze turns 4. In her short life, she has already made an impact on the lives of our community’s children. These letters are evidence of that.
“The truth is, talking about child abuse makes people pretty uncomfortable. If Daze bridges that for children, and even for adults, then she’s made a difference,” Hawthorne says.
Happy birthday, Daze!
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