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Penn State Health introduces new 'Captain' at Children's Hospital

Captain is the hospital's third facility dog who will work with pediatric patients and lessen potential anxieties that come with going to the doctor.

DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. — Penn State Health Children's Hospital has a new four-legged employee.

Captain is a 14-month-old golden retriever who is the hospital's newest facility dog.

"He and all his litter mates are Marvel characters and he's the lucky one who got to be Captain America," said Michelle Flynn, a certified child life specialist and Captain's handler.

It's a fitting name, as Captain is now playing hero to pediatric patients receiving orthopedic and neurophysiology services.

He will help to distract the kids and lessen some of the anxieties that may come along with going to the doctor.

"A lot of times just seeing a dog will put the natural smile on your face, already lower that anxiety they may have," said Flynn.

Captain was raised and trained in Georgia, by a special program called Canine Assistants.

His handlers, Michelle and Derek Flynn, traveled there to meet Captain and learn more about how to integrate him into the Penn State Health facility.

"They start training with them from the moment they're born to start getting ready for the experience to work in the hospital," explained Flynn.

Now back in Dauphin County, Captain is ready to put his unique skills to the test.

"When [patients] see the dog, it kind of erases that and allows them to just be a kid for a moment," said Flynn.

Captain is joining two other facility dogs who are already part of the Penn State Health staff, Kaia and Pilot.

All three dogs work with pediatric patients at the children's hospital.

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