A Perfect Tenth for Zilly

Resident therapy dog celebrates her Valentine’s Day birthday with The Children’s Inn family

Zilly the therapy dog

What do you get for the dog who gives everything? Since Zilly joined The Children’s Inn at NIH as its resident therapy dog in 2015, that has been the question each Valentine’s Day as the Australian Labradoodle celebrates her birthday. On Wednesday, Zilly was the star of the show as Inn staff and residents gathered to celebrate her 10th birthday as part of the broader Valentine’s Day parties taking place at The Inn.

For most of her life, Zilly has played a unique and integral role for the families staying at The Inn. A gentle yet playful dog, Zilly has a knack for bonding quickly with newcomers both young and old, making The Inn even more of “A Place Like Home” for anyone who is looking for a furry friend.

Through her role as a certified therapy dog, Zilly also makes regular visits to families undergoing inpatient treatments at the NIH Clinical Center. She provides soothing companionship to children, teens, and young adults undergoing what can be difficult testing and treatments.

Wednesday’s party started in The Inn’s main lobby, where staff and families gathered to sing Happy Birthday to the dog of honor. Georgetown Cupcakes provided sweet treats for Zilly and all her friends, and families presented her with birthday cards they had made over the last several days.

children with therapy dog

Zilly and her friends at her birthday party on Valentine’s Day

The party continued with Valentine’s Day activities including cookie decorating stations, a Zilly-shaped paper craft, a photo booth, and a Valentine’s themed art class put on by Dave, a longtime volunteer at The Inn.

“Zilly’s birthday party is one of our favorite events of the year,” said Family Program Operations Manager Kristin Arabian. “She does so much all year to make The Inn such a welcoming place, and we love taking every opportunity we can to show her how much she is loved by everyone here at The Children’s Inn.”