Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s Welcomes Four-Legged Team Member

Canine Companions service dog


Employees at Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s Medical Center and Clinics care for children and their families with compassion and quality care, and the newest four-legged staff member plans to do the same by motivating and supporting patients with gentle snuggles and a warm heart.

Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s officially welcomed its newest staff member, Lorenzo, a certified facility dog from Canine Companions for Independence, who will assist the medical center’s Child Life Program. Child Life specialists and handlers, Leah Woodward and Ashley Blackmon, will work with Lorenzo during their visits with pediatric patients in the hospital or clinics.

“Ashley and I feel privileged to be Lorenzo’s handlers and to have the opportunity to use Lorenzo in a supportive manner to help meet specific patient needs,” said Leah Woodward, child life specialist, Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s. “Lorenzo helps facilitate coping during difficult experiences (IV starts, stitches, physical therapy, traumas) and provides support to our chronic and long-term population.”

Video courtesy of Baylor Scott & White Health.

Since opening in October 2011, Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s has recorded more than 161,000 emergency visits, performed more than 27,000 surgeries, and more than 24,000 inpatient discharges. Each day, those numbers continue to increase and so does the need to provide highly specialized care for children. A positive environment can have an impact on a hospitalized child’s recovery, and a meaningful relationship between a highly-trained dog and individual can be beneficial in that process. Thanks to generous funding and donations from Spirit of Halloween and Dr. Gary Gosney’s veterinary team, the facility dog program has the opportunity to serve the physical and psychosocial needs of patients, their families, and medical staff.

“We are very excited to have worked with Canine Companions because the assistance dogs they provide are impeccably trained,” said John Boyd, MD, president & chief medical officer, Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s. “Lorenzo’s handlers, Leah and Ashley from our Child Life team, have done a wonderful job integrating him into our facility, and we expect great things from this program and this collaboration in the future.”

Since 1975, Canine Companions has bred, raised and expertly trained assistance dogs in over 40 commands designed to assist people with disabilities or to motivate and inspire clients with special needs. Lorenzo can pull toy wagons, push drawers closed, and retrieve all kinds of items. He has specific commands that allow him to interact with patients in a calm and appropriate way

“Canine Companions assistance dogs are the result of two years of hard work of volunteer puppy raisers and professional trainers to place the highest quality dogs possible,” said Sarah McCracken, program director, Canine Companions for Independence. “Our dogs are specially matched with individuals and facilities to create long-lasting, successful partnerships. Lorenzo was placed as a facility dog due to his social, loving nature, and will be a great tool in the healing process for every child he meets.”

For over 40 years, Canine Companions for Independence has been enhancing the lives of people with disabilities by training and placing more than 5,500 assistance dogs with program graduates, including more than 250 dogs with military veterans and more than 1,500 dogs with children. The estimated cost of a highly trained Canine Companions facility dog like Lorenzo, and all follow up support, is $50,000, however each facility dog is provided at no cost. Canine Companions depends on the support of tens of thousands of donors and volunteers to match our facility with an assistance dog like Lorenzo free of charge.

For more information on Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s services, visit:

About Baylor Scott & White Health

Formed from the 2013 merger between Baylor Health Care System and Scott & White Healthcare, the system referred to as Baylor Scott & White Health is the largest not-for-profit health care system in the state of Texas. With total assets of $11.1 billion* and serving a population larger than the state of Georgia, Baylor Scott & White Health has the vision and resources to provide its patients continued quality care while creating a model system for a dramatically changing health care environment. The system now includes 50 hospitals, nearly 1,000 access points, 7,800 active physicians, and 48,000 employees, plus the Scott & White Health Plan, Baylor Scott & White Research Institute and Baylor Scott & White Quality Alliance — a network of clinical providers and facilities focused on improving quality, managing the health of patient populations, and reducing the overall cost of care. For more information visit:

* based on audited 2017 fiscal year statements

About Canine Companions for Independence

Canine Companions for Independence provides highly trained assistance dogs to children and adults with disabilities. Established in 1975, Canine Companions has six regional training centers across the country. Canine Companions is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and the quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people. For more information, visit or call 1-800-572-BARK.