Spreading smiles in hospitals, the power of a Facility Dog | Yuko Morita & Bailey | TEDxShimizu


Translator: Hiroko Kawano
Reviewer: Mari Arimitsu (Directing Bailey in English) Hello, everyone. My name is Yuko Morita. This is a facility dog, Bailey. When you were a kid,
were you afraid of getting shots? When you were getting
a flu shot at school, you probably asked your friends,
‘Did it hurt? Did it hurt?’ As you know, kids are
very afraid of injections or having their blood drawn. Hospitalised children have to have
their blood drawn so many times. Some kids need bone-marrow aspirations by drilling a thick needle
into their spine. This dog, Bailey has the magical power
to make these kids say: ‘If Bailey is with me,
I would put up with it 100 more times’. He is such a competent dog. The Japanese medical level
is said to be top-notch, for curing diseases. But in Japan, while ‘to be patient’
has been considered a virtue, it is said that the quality
of hospitalised life is poorly supported. I used to work as a registered nurse
at a children’s hospital in Tokyo. One day a mother
of a hospitalised kid said, ‘This is almost like being in jail’. I was thinking that I was working
very hard for the children, and I was very shocked to hear that. In fact, kids in the hospital are not
supposed to go out even for a walk. They are not allowed
to have their favourite foods. They barely have fun. Some kids stop smiling. When I think back about it,
it might as well be called a jail. At that time,
I was with an NPO called ‘Shine On! Kids’ and they offered to let me
become a handler of a service dog. The Non-Profit Organisation was founded
to emotionally support kids and their families who are suffering
from childhood cancer and other incurable diseases. At that time, I only knew that
a dog is taken to a children’s hospital and the dog works as a member
of the medical staff — there were a number of facility dogs
working in Europe and the US, yet obiously none in Japan; that was all I knew about facility dogs. I thought ‘If a service dog
were working in this ward, the children’s hospital life,
once called a jail, would be way happier’, and I was excited to think so. Without hesitation I said,
‘Yes, I would love to’. There is no training institutions
for facility dog program in Japan. Both Bailey and I were trained
at a Hawaiian training centre. In a children’s hospital in Hawaii, we also practiced following around
our senior facility dog and their handler. To my surprise, the service dog
went into the ICU. The intensive-care unit is where
seriously ill patients are taken care of. There was a child who had just gotten out
of surgery with their head half-shaven, and a large scar on their head. The kid was frowing painfully. To my great concern, ‘Is it really OK
to go there in such a serious situation?’ the facility dog went in there, and climbed on the bed
right beside the kid laying with the tubes around them,
and went to sleep alongside the kid. Then the kid grew relaxed. In spite of all the pain of moving, the kid hugged the dog
and closed their eyes. The kid looked so calm and easy. At the sight of it,
I thought ’WOW, that’s cool!’ Being excited about making
all the hospital wards full of smiles, I came back to Japan with Bailey. However, facility dogs are totally
unprecedented in Japan. The Western mindset for dogs
is totally different from that of Japan. In Europe and the US, it’s been
quite normal to have dogs in the house as family members. On the other hand, in Japan,
we have a history of having them outside. It is outrageous to have a dog
inside the hospital ward: that was what Japanese hospitals thought. Before us, sometimes there were dogs
volunteered to visit hospitals in Japan. But there was not a precedent of having a dog in hospital everyday,
and considering dogs as a medical staff. What was right in Hawaii
was far from right in Japan. We desperately looked for a hospital
that could accept Bailey as a staff. Then eventually we were accepted
by the Shizuoka Children’s Hospital. But the reality was that people said; ‘Can’t the dog be replaced
with a dog robot?’ or ‘To protect kids against infections,
do not enter this ward’. At first we could enter only one ward. So one-day of rounds was finished
in a few minutes. We got to the workplace and an hour later,
it was time to go home. ‘I don’t think Japanese culture
is going to make people want to adopt a facility dog programme’,
I could only think in a negative way. But in fact, children needed Bailey. Five years have passed, and now we are accepted
by almost all wards. Bailey brings about positive differences
to both kids and their families’, — that was what doctors and nurses
started to notice. There was a child
who was visually impaired and was always screaming in panic
when they had their blood collected. But with Bailey by their side, they were
distracted by petting Bailey on the head, the kid could go through blood tests
without crying. Another kid who wouldn’t move at all
due to pain after surgery suddenly got up
just because they wanted to see Bailey. That was a big surprise to the doctor. A family, who are suddenly told
that their child has cancer, will pretend as if nothing happening
to prevent their kid from being nervous. But people cannot suppress
their feelings for good. Sometimes it is important to cry. With somebody who is human, they would feel a need
‘to say something’. But to Bailey, they never have to
say anything if they do not want to. I saw a mother in a hospital corridor,
after hugging Bailey, crying as she wanted and with a relaxed expression,
she went back to her kid’s bed. Bailey was a positive influence
for their families, too. Then I found there are
three important bonds for a facility dog. One is a bond between Bailey and the kids, another is Bailey and his handler, and the other is
Bailey and the medical staff. These are three important bonds
with Bailey. The first bond is: as Bailey works
at the same hospital everyday, he sees the same children many times. For children, just having a dog
is not good enough. Bailey, who comes to them everyday,
really matters. Only with Bailey
who has bonds with the kids, can they be courageous enough
to hang in there. Even with a dog phobia, almost all kids
will come to like Bailey eventually. For kids, Bailey is a teammate with a tail
who fight against their illness. Bailey can even enter
the surgical theatre with a child. Even an adult is scared
of getting an operation, right? Wondering ‘Does it hurt?’,
or feeling scared, they have to spend the terrifying time
from the ward to the theatre. But holding Bailey’s leash,
walking with him, children can guide Bailey
smiling and walking to the theatre. It is a privilege walk with everyone’s
favourite Bailey, without anyone else! Some kids walk playfully
around Bailey’s fluffy tail as if they are cats. Some kids say smiling, ‘Bailey’s
wagging his tail means Good Luck’. In this way, scary feelings
turn to exciting feelings; which encourages kids
to go to the theatre. The second bond is: between a facility dog and their hander,
who live together twenty-four seven. We always spend holidays together too. This is very important;
just getting together while working and saying ‘Bye-Bye’ after five
doesn’t make any sense. We sleep at night and Bailey sleeps
with his head on my arm. The bond between a facility dog
and their handler is the basis on which a facility dog
works professionally. Only the bond with me can convince Bailey
to trust me to work together. But the truth is; you may think that a training dog
will do anything I say, Bailey is a stubborn guy
who goes only where he wants. To a direction he doesn’t to want to go,
he does like this. Can you see he is hanging on
with all his might? Planting his feet firmly on the ground,
digging his nails into it, he never goes where he doesn’t want to. While walking on the street, I sometimes struggle
with Bailey sitting there. People passing by always say laughing,
‘That’s troublesome’. But he has never refused
to go to the hospital. On the contrary, he sometimes
refuses to go home, squatting there, going back into the hospital ward. Dogs easily understand
what people are thinking about them. Because there are many people
who love him, Bailey loves the hospital very much. Both a dog and people
are mutually affected; that is where the facility dog belongs. This is why non-sentient toy dogs
cannot make this happen. A robot dog can not make this happen. The third bond is
between Bailey and the medical staff. The handler of a facility dog
is a medical staff. The reason why only medical staff
can be a handler of a facility dog is: that a facility dog’s work includes
not only healing mentally, but also curing physically. Bailey and I sometimes take a part
in the conversations where treatment courses
of patients are decided. I also figure out
how our patient kids are and work out
how to approach this patient. I also write on the medical charts. In this way, to be involved
with specific purpose is what only facility dogs are capable of, and why a handler of a facility dog
must be certified medical staff. It has been five years since Bailey and I
started working in Japan. We have met thousands of children. We once met a kid
in the terminal phase of disease and the kid could not eat. He wanted to but he couldn’t eat;
that was his situation. Given a short span of time,
both his family and nurses wished that he could enjoy
whatever little amount of food he could. Then there was a suggestion made
Bailey attended at his dinner table. With Bailey, the kid
was happy to sit up smiling. Saying, ‘Bailey, look at me’, though it was only a few mouthful,
but he could managed to grab spaghetti into his mouth. He could also enjoy ice cream, not being forced to do so,
but willingly to do so. Only the presence of Bailey bedside
could make that level of change. The bad impression of a hospital
changed so much as to make children say, ‘I want to be hospitalised
to see Bailey’. With Bailey,
kids can double their fun. With Bailey,
kids can share tears and fears. Most children are discharged
from hospital safe and sound. But sadly, some kids have to
leave this world forever, and Bailey sometimes sleeps with them
till just before their last moments. We say ‘You know, Bailey’s with you’, ‘It’s warm, isn’t?’ to kids. The time goes on sadly
but warmly. We sometimes attend a funeral
for children. When parents have to close the lid
of their own child’s coffin, can you imagine how they feel? In fact every family says ‘We were really happy
to have Bailey with us’. They always say that. ‘Before Bailey, the hospital stay
had been just so heart-wrenching’. ‘With Bailey our kid’s life
changed so much’. These are what bereaved families
said to us. A family who lost their child
will reflect on their child everyday, through their long span of life. Remembering their child
as ‘a poor soul who went through so many painful operations;
or remembering their child as ‘a laughing kid sleeping
with Bailey just before death; their feelings are completely different,
aren’t they? We wish to make
a small portion of happiness in their heartbreaking memory. We wish the bereaved family remember
as many smiles of their kid as possible. The Facility Dog Programme
is not an option, but necessity for hospital care,
that’s what I strongly feel about it. Japan’s medical care is said to be
the highest in the world. Not just curing disease,
but also having an environment for healing disease more proactively
is necessary, I think. For patients,
they can’t have too much fun. There are a lot of facility dogs
in Europe and the US, but in Japan we have only two. I would like to have facility dogs
as a standard in Japanese hospitals and make Japanese hospitals
a fun place to be in, even for patients
who have medical conditions. So many children who passed away
are watching for us from heaven. For those kids, I would like to
make the Japanese medical front a place where I can be proud to say,
‘Hey, it’s a good hospital, isn’t it?’ (Applause)

4 thoughts on “Spreading smiles in hospitals, the power of a Facility Dog | Yuko Morita & Bailey | TEDxShimizu

  1. 殺処分廃止の署名を集めています。Googleにて、(change.org)検索お願いします。また、無料で負担無しで、毎日寄付出来る、(gooddo)こちらも、宜しくお願い致します。誠に勝手ながら、広めたくコメント致します。すみません、どうぞ宜しくお願い致します。

  2. I do not speak Japanese, never the less I would like to express what I see in dogs. We do not need to wonder or hope for benevolent high tech aliens. Humanity's technology advancements out paces our own development as a species. The nature of the dog in our own back yard has the capacity to escort humanity into knowlagable, unadulterated benevolence, tolerance and kindness for one another within our own speices.

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