Community Gems: Karen Muller helps brighten day for sick children at Children’s Hospital

Karen Muller, middle, is with Kara Lucas, left, and Meghan King and one of the service dogs that makes visits with children at Dayton Children's Hospital.
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Karen Muller, middle, is with Kara Lucas, left, and Meghan King and one of the service dogs that makes visits with children at Dayton Children's Hospital.

DAYTON — Since January, sick children at Dayton Children’s Hospital have had their days brightened when service dogs visit their room.

That program was started by Karen Muller of Dayton, who has served patients and families at Dayton Children’s Hospital for 37 years.

Amy Thorson, a co-worker of Muller, said Muller’s work has set Dayton’s child life department apart from other children’s hospitals.

“Karen’s vision and understanding of what kids and families need has built a tremendous toolbox of resources,” Thorson said. “Our child life program is so unique, just like our facility dog program.”

Muller is the manager of child life at the hospital, and her co-workers, Thorson and Katie Solovey, nominated her to be honored as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem for her work.

The Canine Co-Pilot program is a child life program that brings in service dogs to help comfort patients and families during their time at the hospital. Muller had the idea for the program over two years ago, and since has been working tirelessly to curate a team to run the program as well as secure certified service dogs.

“The dogs’ primary goal is to help kids with support during procedures, motivate kids to get up and move, comfort chronic patients that may be here longer, and bring support to families during bereavement,” Muller said.

Since the program officially launched in January, the hospital have been granted two service dogs for the program, Millie and Peppermint. The dogs were provided and trained by 4 Paws for Ability, a non-profit in Xenia that trains service dogs.