The Woody Pet Therapy Program at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas has brought smiles and comfort to countless people since it began in 1987. We’re happy you’re interested in this wonderful pet visitation program. Come join us!

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Steps for Becoming a Pet Therapy Volunteer

There are several steps needed to become a Woody Pet Therapy team member, starting with learning what makes a good therapy dog. If you think you and your dog are good candidates, you can move on to the official first step.

1. Contact the Child Life Department at 512/324-0146.

The Child Life office will put you in touch with the Woody Program Team Coordinator, who will evaluate your dog’s readiness for pet therapy and give you advice on training and our specific requirements. This initial evaluation is required before submitting the Dell Children’s volunteer application.

2. Register with Pet Partners (formally the Delta Society) at the Complex Level.

Visit Pet Partners for specific team registration requirements. You must complete the Pet Partners’ workshop or online study prior to being able to take this in-person skills and aptitude test. It’s very important that you and your dog are trained and ready for this evaluation.

To be a Woody Pet Therapy team member, you must complete your Pet Partners’ evaluation on a regular buckle or snap collar or harness and regular leash – no retractable leads. Dogs do not visit on Gentle Leaders, a Halti or any other type of head training halter.

3. Complete the Dell Children’s Medical Center Volunteer Services Application and Orientation

Learn how to become a Dell Children’s volunteer.

4. Complete the Woody Pet Therapy Program Orientation

Once you are registered as a Complex team by Pet Partners and accepted as a Dell Children’s volunteer, we would like to help you and your dog become comfortable in our hospital. This orientation was created to ensure safety for children and all others, as well as making sure that you and your dog can work comfortably around other pet therapy teams:

  • A brief off-site visit with you and your dog will be required before you start working in our hospital.
  • Complete one visit, without your dog, observing an established team member. You will assist the Woody team member making “rounds” to gain valuable hospital experience without the responsibility of managing their own pet.
  • Complete several visits with your dog shadowing with more than one established team member and their dog. The team members will observe and answer any questions you may have and introduce you to all the different areas that we visit.
  • Existing team members will meet new team members outside of the hospital grounds prior to a visit. The purpose is to introduce the new dog in a neutral setting so all can work well together around the children in the hospital.

Membership Requirements

Woody Pet Therapy Program volunteers and their dogs currently visit hospital patients on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. In addition, Sunday afternoon visit times are available as an option. Teams are also invited to participate in various hospital special events.

Pet therapy teams are asked to volunteer a minimum of twice a month. Additional visits are great but not expected.

We schedule team meetings once or twice a year to update everyone about policy and procedure changes.