A Little Dog’s Big Heart Inspires Endowment to help Seriously Ill Children

The miniature poodle puppy was tiny and quiet, sitting upright in a far corner in a play area as another dog jumped and barked for attention. Synergy Enterprises President and CEO Prachee J. Devadas and her then 13-year-old son, Toshiro “Tosh,” had clear ideas about the kind of dog they wanted to adopt. But when they saw the mild-mannered poodle hold up its paw to push the other overly excited dog away, walk to the other side of the play area and assume the same dignified pose as before, their minds changed and hearts opened.

Tosh named the 2-pound poodle pup who fit in the palm of her hand, Yuna. For 13 years, Yuna was Devadas’ constant companion. Fitting into a shoulder dog carrier bag once grown, Yuna accompanied Devadas to work, stores, medical appointments, the hairdresser, out-of-town trips, the movies and through life’s ups and downs. On Dec. 19, 2019, Yuna was laid to rest. In tribute to her loyal canine companion, Devadas recently set up “The Yuna Comfort and Joy Fund”, an endowment to help make recreational and therapeutic activities available to seriously ill children and their families staying at The Inn.

“Yuna lived to give joy, love, kindness and comfort,” Devadas says. “If the children and families who go through so much will be comforted or find joy in doing yoga or art activities, or animal therapy, something that touches them, that would be hugely satisfying.”

Prachee Devadas and her dog Yuna
Devadas holds Yuna, the poodle she shared her life with for 13 years.

“The Children’s Inn is honored to be able to carry on Yuna’s legacy of giving love and support during difficult times through The Yuna Comfort and Joy Fund,” says Children’s Inn CEO Jennie Lucca. “Recreational and therapeutic activities help make stays at The Inn so special and enriching for our children, teens and young adults while they undergo treatments for rare and challenging diseases at NIH. We are deeply grateful.”

Devadas, who has been serving on The Children’s Inn’s board of directors since 2018, credits Yuna with helping her appreciate and embody many of Yuna’s characteristics: patience, kindness, forgiveness and the ability to find joy even during challenging times.

Devadas created this black-and-white charcoal drawing of Yuna.

“Yuna became my anchor,” she says. “She was my spirit animal and guiding light.”

By helping fund a wide variety of recreational and therapeutic activities, Devadas aims to give children and families at The Inn some of the same nurturing emotional support, comfort and joy that Yuna selflessly lent her.

Prachee holds Yuna
The certified therapy dog’s calming presence and perfect manners made a deep impression on everyone who met her.