Healing hearts with paws

Our happy, smiling, expertly trained resident facility dogs help heal hearts physically and emotionally. These professionally trained dogs work alongside their certified handlers to provide care in our Plano, McKinney and Denton facilities.

Our team is on-call 24/7, with services offered at no cost to patients, families and staff. By integrating facility dogs throughout our outpatient and inpatient services, we support the physical, social and mental healing and well-being of all those we serve.

Call 469.814.4289 to request a visit

Meet the team

The Dogs of Cardiac Support are bred and professionally explicitly trained for service by Canine Companions. Throughout their training, they are assessed for temperament, intelligence and trainability. Only about 50% of puppies meet the criteria to become facility dogs, including Assistance Dogs International certification.

Our dogs

Kahlua

Kahlua is a male Labrador golden retriever mix born in May 2019 in Santa Rosa, CA. After being placed in Austin, TX, with a puppy raiser family, he went to the Kinkade training center in Irving, TX, for advanced training. He was placed at our Plano heart hospital in June 2021.

Frenchie

Frenchie is a female Labrador golden retriever mix born in September 2019 in Santa Rosa, CA. After placement in Carrollton, TX, with a puppy raiser family, she went to the Kinkade training center in Irving, TX, for advanced training. She was placed at our Plano heart hospital in June 2022.

Brielle

Brielle is a female Labrador golden retriever mix born in January 2023 in Santa Rosa, CA. She is being raised for future service as part of the Canine Companions Puppy Raising Program. She was placed at The Heart Hospital in March 2023 and will be with us until she moves on for advanced training.

Our leadership

A dedicated multidisciplinary committee leads our program, and our handlers go through rigorous training and certification.

Jamile Ashmore, PhD, ABPP
Kahlua’s primary handler

Sherry Swanson, LMSW, ACM-SW
Frenchie’s primary handler

Our facility dog services

As part of the multidisciplinary care team, our facility dogs serve as tools to enhance physical healing and emotional support.

They work alongside health providers in areas such as:

  • Occupational, speech and physical therapy
  • Social work
  • Child life specialists
  • Support groups
  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Palliative care

Special programs 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​Through special events, services and training programs, our team continues to grow the support provided by our dogs and expand resources beyond our facility walls.

Events

Our team and dogs are involved in events throughout the year, including:

  • Halloween Pet Parade
  • Holiday Pawsitivity Wreath Contest
  • Valentines Paw Love
  • Santa Paws
  • Birthday Pawty
  • Nurses Week
  • Hospital Week

For more information about upcoming Dogs of Cardiac Support events, contact Sherry Swanson at Sherry.Swanson@BSWHealth.org or 469.814.4570.

Training Academy

Our Facility Dog Training Academy is an interactive seminar to connect with other hospitals or outpatient facilities to help design, implement and advance facility dog services. Through the workshops, participants will develop a roadmap to guide starting a program or advancing an existing program.

Topics include:

  • Is your facility ready for a dog
  • How to decide what type of dog your facility needs
  • Steps to setting up for your first facility dog
  • Obtaining leadership buy-in
  • Electronic health record integration
  • Safety protocols
  • Managing patients, guests and staff
  • Sharing best practices and experiences from others

For more information, contact Dr. Jay Ashmore at Jamile.Ashmore@BSWHealth.org or 469.814.4289.

How to get involved

We provide services at no cost to patients and staff through the support of volunteer puppy raisers and the generosity of donors. Every dog in our program is placed with a puppy raiser from age eight weeks to about one year, followed by a year of advanced training at a Canine Companions facility like the Baylor Scott & White – Kinkeade Campus in Irving.

You can make a difference by becoming involved as a puppy raiser or through a monetary gift to one of our Baylor Scott & White foundations.