Norton Children’s Hospital welcomes facility support dog Luna

Young patients within Norton Children’s Hospital have a new furry friend to help provide comfort during treatment.
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 11:36 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 24, 2023 at 5:03 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Young patients within Norton Children’s Hospital have a new furry friend to help provide comfort during treatment.

Luna, a 2-year-old black Labrador, recently joined the team at Norton Children’s Cancer Institute as a facility dog, according to a release

Norton Children’s Hospital said Luna will be working in the cancer unit in the hospital and at Novak Center for Children’s Health.

Luna will interact with patients and provide therapeutic support for kids who are recovering outpatient cancer treatment.

Young patients will be able to interact with Luna by playing fetch or hide and seek with toys, playing musical instruments and painting.

The hospital said it hopes Luna provides emotional support and a sense of normalcy during each child’s stay.

“Our facility dogs not only offer comfort but provide children with an outlet to verbalize their fears,” Heather Stohr, manager, child and family life, Norton Healthcare said in a release. “Luna will provide support during a very challenging, and sometimes lengthy, journey for families.”

Luna’s funding was provided through Aiden’s Legacy, a local nonprofit created by 18-year-old Aiden Johnson, a two-time survivor of leukemia.

After his first cancer diagnosis at 3 years old, he learned what kinds of things helped get him through it. After his second diagnosis at 8 years old, he wanted to help others going through the same thing.

Johnson got to see Luna introduced to the hospital Friday, alongside his mom, Gena.

“[My mom] is mostly doing it for the parents. I’m mostly doing it for the kids,” Aiden said, “because we’ve had our experiences, but just knowing I can help whoever I can help feels great.”

The nonprofit supports pediatric cancer patients at Norton Children’s Cancer Institute, where Aiden was treated. He has since raised more than $450,000 in support of cancer patients since 2013.

“Dogs are great, and they make me smile and laugh,” Aiden said. “It brings me happiness to be able to bring additional smiles and laughter to the kids with the Aiden’s Legacy dog, Luna.”

In addition, University of Louisville philanthropy organization RaiseRED provided funding to hire Luna’s handler. The group has raised over $4 million for research and patient needs for both Norton Children’s Hospital and University of Louisville School of Medicine.

“Luna and the child life team make a huge difference in reducing the stress and anxiety patients and their families feel while in the hospital,” Addy Abels, raiseRED youth philanthropy coordinator said in a release. “RaiseRED is so excited to support them.”

With Luna, Norton Children’s Hospital now has 11 facility dogs in its facility dog program, called “Heel, Dog, Heal.”

Luna was trained by Paws with Purpose through the organization’s program at the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women in Pewee Valley.

To follow Luna on social media, click or tap here.