HONOLULU (KHON2) — Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children (KMCWC) welcomed its new Chief Canine Officer, Ruby, on Tuesday. The two-year-old Labrador Retriever is a full-time hospital facility dog and was selected for the role due to her gentle nature and love of children, according to hospital staff.
Kapiolani’s Hospital Facility Dog Program for pediatric patients is facilitated by Child Life Services Supervisor of Pediatric Services Heather Tamaye who acts as Ruby’s handler.
The California-born lab trained at Assistance Dogs of Hawaii’s Northwest and Maui training facilities before arriving at Kapiolani. According to the medical center, Ruby knows over 90 commands and provides support and comfort to pediatric patients.
“Ruby’s calm, nurturing presence has visible impacts on patients,” said Tamaye. “We can enter a room in which a patient is in pain, anxious or just having a rough day and all of that is melted away with each pet of her coat.”
Ruby loves snuggling up in bed with patients and visiting the Brain Station classroom used for educational programs offered by Child Life Services. The hospital shared that patients often describe feeling relaxed after interacting with Ruby, some even writing ‘thank you’ cards.
As the new Chief Canine Officer, she is continuing the legacy of Kapiolani’s original Hospital Facility Dog, Tucker, who served for nine years before his passing in 2016.
“We are so excited to have Ruby as part of the team here at Kapiolani,” said Kapiolani Chief Operating Officer Gidget Ruscetta. “Working together with Assistance Dogs of Hawaii, we took our time to ensure we found the right dog that would be the best fit to work with our pediatric patients and staff, and Ruby has been wonderful. With all that our patients and staff have endured due to COVID-19 over the past year, Ruby’s presence is appreciated more than ever.”