Paws & Play, supported by PetSmart Charities®

Paws & Play is the facility dog program at the Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai. Professor and Amos, our beloved facility dogs, are full-time “employees” in the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department. This program pairs Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) with the skills of a Certified Child Life Specialist 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, lower blood pressure, and decrease experiences of depression and fatigue. Just as important, AAT has also proven to reduce patient anxiety during medical appointments, reduce feelings of isolation, and provide opportunities for increased social support.

Thanks to the generosity of our friends at PetSmart Charities and their three-year funding commitment, Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai has launched this innovative and therapeutic program. With the support of the Mount Sinai Auxiliary Board, our program has grown to include our second facility dog, Amos. Together, we are committed to enhancing patient care while pioneering research in this area.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to questions we hear often about Paws & Play.

What is a facility dog?

A facility dog is an animal specially trained to work in the health care environment. Professor and Amos were trained as service dogs at Canine Assistants in Milton, Georgia, where they were exposed to a variety of environments and experiences to prepare them to work with the children and families at our hospital.

How is this program special?

Certified child life specialists incorporate Professor and Amos into therapeutic treatment plans using Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) to address the individual clinical needs of our patient populations. AAT is a goal-directed intervention that incorporates the animal into the treatment process. It is considered a therapeutic form of treatment.

In which areas do Professor and Amos work?

Professor spends his time in the outpatient pediatric hematology/oncology clinic with his primary handler, Ali Spike, MS, CCLS. Professor also sees patients who are referred to him on the inpatient units and pediatric intensive care unit with Ali and his secondary handler, Toshiko Nonaka, MS, CCLS. 
Amos is based in the inpatient pediatric units with his handler Tori Zucker, MS, CCLS. Amos is also a part of our Backstage Pass in the KidZone TV studio, and joins weekly parent coffee hours in the Family Corner with his secondary handler, Mathea Jacobs.

Professor and Amos are full-time facility dogs and each spends 40 hours per week at the hospital, based on their handler’s schedule.

Can families request to meet Professor and Amos?

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. If your child loves animals or misses a pet from home, your child life specialist can refer your child to our volunteer pet therapy program. Professor and Amos also appear on a weekly KidZone TV show on Thursdays at 3 pm, so your child can tune in and see them on TV.

How did Professor and Amos get their names? What is their breed?

Professor is named after Professor Bunsen Honeydew from the Muppets. Amos is named after the Famous Amos Cookie. They are both golden doodles.

What do Professor and Amos do for fun?

Professor lives with his primary handler, Ali Spike. Professor enjoys long walks in the park, playing with his favorite toys, and getting cozy on the couch.
Amos lives with KidZone TV Manager, Mathea Jacobs. Amos enjoys walks on the beach, the park, and playing with his best friend, Professor.

How do I get more information about Paws & Play and Professor?

For more information about Professor, Amos and Paws & Play programming, please contact Morgan Stojanowski at or 212-241-2939.

Follow Professor and Amos on Instagram for the latest updates @MountSinai_PawsandPlay

Read the latest issue of the Paws & Play newsletter, The Doggy Digest