Richmond, Va.
Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015

Richmond Teen Creates Activity Book for VCU School of Medicine Dogs on Call Therapy Program

Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010

Ben Schenck, a 13-year-old from Richmond, has created an activity book for the Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Human-Animal Interaction’s Dogs on Call Therapy Dog Program.

Titled “A Special Visit from a Special Dog: Getting to Know Your ‘Dog on Call,’” the book will serve as a source of entertainment and distraction of health problems for pediatric patients.

As an animal lover, Schenck came up with the idea of an activity book to help patients understand why dogs were coming to visit them in their hospital room. The book is filled with pictures, information and activities for patients to complete after receiving a visit from a therapy dog.

“I thought it was important that kids knew more about the program and the dogs visiting them,” said Schenck.

The Center for Human-Animal Interaction is one of 12 VCU-affiliated charities participating in the 2010 Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign. For information on donating to this or any of the nearly 1,300 participating Virginia charities, go to

“Dogs on Call is a therapy dog program of the Center for Human-Animal Interaction, established at the VCU School of Medicine in 2001, as a complementary therapy program for patients. The program has close to 40 registered teams of dog owners and their dogs that visit patients, families and staff throughout all areas of the hospital. With no breed restriction, therapy dogs can range from Chihuahuas to pit bulls.”

“A five minute visit can just be the difference,” said Denice Ekey, center program coordinator, about the impact of the DOC program.

The book, which was partially funded by the MCVH Auxiliary of the VCU Health System, will begin to be distributed this week.

From left: Sandra Barker, Ph.D., director of the Center for Human-Animal Interaction; Siri Bream, child life specialist; Ben Schenck, author of book; and Denice Ekey, center program coordinator, with the new activity book that will be given to children after their Dogs on Call visit. Photo by Katie Keane