Paws & Play, supported by PetSmart Charities®

Paws & Play, supported by PetSmart Charities, is the facility dog program at the Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai. Professor, our first-ever facility dog, is a full time employee in the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department. This program utilizes Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) to provide therapeutic interventions for patients and families. Animal Assisted Therapy and facility dogs have been found to increase positive behaviors, reduce experiences of pain, decrease blood pressure and decrease experiences of depression and fatigue. AAT has also proven to reduce patient anxiety during medical appointments, reduce feelings of isolation and to provide opportunities for increased social support.

Thanks to the generous three-year funding commitment from our friends at PetSmart Charities, the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai has launched this innovative and therapeutic program. Together we are committed to enhancing patient care while pioneering research in this area.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a facility dog?
A facility dog is an animal specially trained to work in the health care environment. Professor was trained as a service dog at Canine Assistants in Milton, Georgia where he was exposed to a variety of environments and experiences to prepare him to work with the children and families at our hospital.

How is this program unique?
Certified child life specialists will incorporate Professor into therapeutic treatment plans using Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) to address the individual clinical needs of our patient populations. Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is a goal directed intervention in which an animal that meets specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process and is recognized as a therapeutic form of treatment.

What areas does Professor work in and how often?
Professor spends his time in the outpatient pediatric hematology/oncology clinic with his primary handler, Ali Spike, MS, CCLS. Professor sees patients on a referral basis on the inpatient units and pediatric intensive care unit with Ali and his secondary handler, Toshiko Nonaka, MS, CCLS. Professor is a full time facility dog. He spends 40 hours a week at the hospital based on his handler’s schedule.

Can families request to meet Professor?
Yes. If your child is having a difficult time coping with the hospital environment, is experiencing significant pain, or needs more motivation to achieve clinical goals you can contact your child life specialist to request a session with Professor. If your child loves animals or misses their pet from home, your child life specialist can make a referral to our volunteer pet therapy program. Professor also appears on a weekly Kid Zone TV show on Thursdays at 3pm – so tune in!

How did Professor get his name? What is his breed?
Professor is named after Professor Bunsen Honeydew from the Muppets. He is a golden doodle. He is ¾ golden retriever and ¼ poodle.

What does Professor do after work and on the weekends?
Professor lives with his primary handler, Ali Spike. After work Professor enjoys going for long walks in the park and playing with his favorite toys. On the weekends, Professor loves to sleep in and get cozy on the couch. Professor sometimes goes home with his secondary handler, Toshiko Nonaka, where he gets spoiled with treats and love!

How do I get more information about Paws & Play and Professor?
For more information about Professor and Paws & Play programming, please contact Morgan Stojanowski at or 212-241-2939.

Follow Professor on Instagram for the latest updates! @PawsandPlay_Professor.

Contact Us

For more information about Professor and Paws & Play programming
Morgan Stojanowski
Tel: 212-241-2939

Follow Professor on Instagram for the latest updates @PawsandPlay_Professor.

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

The Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department can help during your child's hospital stay. Watch video