Hospitalised children mourn the loss of therapy dog

Vanessa Curtis, David Janetzki MP and Lis Palmer with dogs Hope and Odessa.

The corridors of the Toowoomba Hospital children’s ward and the youth mental health ward are quieter as patients mourn the sudden death of therapy dog Kit.

Kit, a black labradoodle, had been brightening the days of sick, injured and struggling children every Friday.

Hope for Our Children volunteer Lis Palmer was Kit’s handler and Kit was part of her family for 13 months.

“He really was an amazing dog for understanding people,” Mrs Palmer said.

“In the youth mental health ward, we saw a lot of long-term patients who were mainly girls,” she said.

“They lived there in the locked ward and so our Friday visits gave them something to look forward to.”

Kit was just 17 months old when he suddenly and unexpectedly died in late November after complications following bowel obstruction surgery.

Hope for Our Children are currently fundraising to train new therapy puppy Odessa to continue their vital work at the Toowoomba Hospital.

Member for Toowoomba South David Janetzki MP said Kit’s passing had been deeply felt by Lis’ family, hospital staff, patients, parents, and Hope for Our Children volunteers.

“Kit touched so many lives and his passing has greatly impacted the community,” Mr Janetzki said.

“I can think of no better cause than bringing comfort to children who are in pain,” he said.

“I urge the community to support Kit’s legacy. While they can’t replace Kit, they can continue their work in honour of him.”

Mrs Palmer said both her and Kit bonded with the girls in the youth mental health ward during the four months they visited.

“There was one girl in particular who was there for many of the months while we were visiting,” Mrs Palmer said.

“She loved dogs. She missed her own dogs and she wanted to learn how to train dogs,” she said.

“I was teaching her how to care for and train dogs to help her for when she returned home.

“That was pretty special. Kit was loving on her. He was a calming influence in the kids’ lives.”

Kit’s work in the Toowoomba Hospital paediatrics ward was greatly appreciated by staff and parents.

He brought comfort, joy and a calming presence to children who were sick, receiving treatments, recovering from surgeries, broken bones, car crashes and more.

Mrs Palmer said their visits helped nursing staff succeed in getting children to eat/drink/receive treatment which they had been refusing beforehand.

“There was a girl in the children’s ward who was writhing around in pain,” Mrs Palmer said.

“There were four staff tending to her but nothing they did was helping,” she said.

“Kit sat on her bed, and she immediately calmed and was able to pat him. The staff were amazed she was able to sit up and pat Kit because of how much pain she was in.”

Donations towards Hope for Our Children’s training of a new therapy puppy Odessa can be made via