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Inova Loudoun’s new facility dog will help minimize kids’ stress in the ER

Four-Legged Caregiving

photo of golden retriever with medical vest sitting in patient care areaIn November 2017, Inova Loudoun Hospital is pleased to welcome a new, full-time furry staff member: Jeremiah, a 2.5-year-old golden retriever and the hospital’s first full-time facility dog.

During his training, Jeremiah spends his days mainly visiting patients in the Children’s Emergency Room (ER) and Pediatric Inpatient Unit. “We are so excited to have him,” says Allyson Halverson, Certified Child Life Specialist, ILH Pediatrics Department. “His impact is immeasurable; kids immediately calm down when he enters a room, their faces light up, and they’re more cooperative with their treatments and procedures.”

Spearheaded by Halverson, as well as Certified Child Life Specialist Kim Van Etten and Children’s ER Medical Director Dr. Jill McCabe, the facility dog program was designed to minimize kids’ stress while in the healthcare setting. Jeremiah promotes positive coping during medical interventions, provides a source of comfort and physical contact for patients, and offers an alternative focus from illness and medical treatment.

Halverson, Van Etten and McCabe are completing extensive training through Hero Dogs, a nonprofit organization. Jeremiah’s formal graduation is set for Nov. 4. Upon graduation, Jeremiah will become a permanent member of the Inova Loudoun Hospital Child Life team.

Jeremiah’s Favorites

Food: Any kind of meat and peanut butter inside of a bone.
Activity: Playing with his ball and showing off his tricks, especially popping bubbles and giving high fives!

Dog Days

To learn more about or donate to the Hero Dogs, visit

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