The Queen’s Medical Center helps train future assistance dog


The Queen’s Medical Center has three official assistance dogs that help comfort patients.

Yoda and Ipo are based at the Punchbowl location, while Kula roams the halls of the Queen’s Medical Center West Oahu.

“It’s amazing what these dogs can do because they provide a kind of support and empathy that humans don’t for whatever reason,” said the Vice President for Government Affairs at the Queen’s Medical Center, Paula Yoshioka.

However, you may spot one that is not like the others. It’s not just because of her shiny black coat.

“They just tasked me with teaching her how to pick up keys, how to pick up the cellphone and things like that,” Renee Tomita, Tess’ trainer, explained.

Tomita is fostering and training Tess. Unlike the other dogs, Tess will not be working at the hospital long term.

“Tess is an extraordinary little puppy. She’s super smart. [Assistance Dogs of Hawaii] have said, ‘You know we think she’s going to be a wheelchair dog for a child,'” Yoshioka said.

While Assistance Dogs of Hawaii has not formally placed Tess or decided who she will go to, Executive Director Maureen Maurer said Tess will definitely make someone very happy.

“We’re especially thankful that Queen’s wanted to give back to our program and sort of pay it forward by helping to raise a puppy for us that will go on to be a huge blessing to someone else,” Maurer said.

Tomita said the hardest part will be having to say goodbye to Tess.

“That’s what they say is just know that she is going to make someone happy, and the solution to not being sad anymore is to get another one,” Tomita said.

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