University of Virginia School of Nursing
Rife with student ambassadors to carry forth their mission, Kenny, an Australian mini-Labradoodle is the Compassionate Care Initiative's first canine staffer.
  • Breed: Australian Mini-Labradoodle
  • Birthdate: June 13, 2015
  • Interests/hobbies: Meeting new people and dogs, back rubs, and chasing after sticks
  • Favorite treat: Plato Pet Treats, small bites made with chicken

Kenny, the School of Nursing’s first resident therapy dog, spent his first two years of puppyhood training to provide comfort and relief to his human companions, thanks to devoted handler and psychiatric/ mental health nursing professor Edie Barbero.

Today, Kenny’s work brings him to UVA Medical Center’s corridors where he lifts clinicians’ spirits alongside a School-sponsored Compassionate Care Cart, a mobile station laden with snacks, water, meditation and yoga schedules and uplift that makes rounds in the hospital. Kenny also makes regular appearances in nursing student lounges where he tends the happy, the homesick, the exam-weary and the harried.

Certified this spring through Pet Partners with owner Barbero, the therapy duo is primarily stationed in the School of Nursing, but they also work at UVA Medical Center once a week. Because Kenny is only two, he is mainly stationed in the lobby or waiting areas, but once he is older he will work more directly with patients. Kenny has also made rounds with the Compassionate Care Cart, to spend some time with staff.

Who couldn't use some puppy love?