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Canine-Assisted Therapy

MossRehab facility dogs motivate people during therapy sessions while lifting their spirits.

Resident facility dogs Kya and Bayley are helping people to better engage in therapy sessions by participating in rehab activities at MossRehab Elkins Park. Kya, a purebred yellow lab, and Bayley, a golden retriever lab mix, received nine months of training to serve as facility dogs through Canine Companions, a nationwide non-profit organization, which raises and trains canines. The canines know over 40 commands and can accomplish different tasks.

Therapy dogs Kya, a yellow lab, and Bayley, a golden retriever lab mix, sitting beside their handlers.

Occupational Therapist Allison Hendrix, OTR/L, (left) serves as Bayley’s handler while Recreational Therapist Michael Bane, CTRS, is the handler for Kya.

Therapy dog playing card game with patient

Kya is trained to play cards with people during recreational therapy. She can pick cards from a cardholder and drop them on the right spot on the table to compete in a game.

Helping People with Different Needs

The facility dogs are assigned to different areas of the hospital. Bayley works with people in the Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) units and Kya sees those in the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) and comprehensive rehab units. They participate in a variety of activities based on therapeutic goals.

For someone working on balance, standing and walking, a person might play a scavenger hunt game with Bayley, placing kibble under plastic cones placed around a room. As Bayley brings the cones to the person undergoing therapy, she receives kibble as a reward. During the session, the person practices walking, reaching and balancing while having fun playing with Bayley.

The facility dogs also work in group sessions led by speech therapists and neurologists. In one session led by a speech therapist in the stroke unit, people practice their clarity of speech by giving verbal commands.

Who Can Get Canine-Assisted Therapy?

For people showing an interest in working with the facility dogs, clinicians determine if they are a good match while physicians provide medical approval to ensure individuals don’t have allergies or other conditions that can pose a problem.

The dogs only work with a few people each day and can relax periodically throughout the day in their kennels located in their handles' offices. When not at Moss, the dogs live at the handler's house where they are treated as regular dogs.

People at MossRehab Elkins Park who are interested in working with a facility dog should discuss the possibility with their clinicians.


Canine companions is a non-profit that provides highly trained assistance and facility dogs and on-going support, free of charge, to enhance independence for people with disabilities. Facility dogs are expertly trained dogs that partner with a facilitator working in healthcare, visitation, or education setting. Learn more at www.canine.org

Ranked Among the Best for 30 years

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Top-ranked rehabilitation hospital in Pennsylvania and top 10 in the U.S.

MossRehab (main hospital)

60 Township Line Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027
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