Kansas City,
09:35 AM

Hope and Hunter pledge puppy love fur-ever

Hope and Hunter, the Children’s Mercy facility dogs who spend their days spreading unconditional love and comfort to patients and their families, exchanged canine vows in a “pawsome” nuptial ceremony in the Lisa Barth Chapel on Thursday (May 18).

“Hope has always been ‘Hunter’s girlfriend,' so it only made sense that they should ‘marry,’” said Missy Stover, Child Life Volunteer and Therapeutic Programs Manager.

Hope, wearing a white wedding dress and veil, and Hunter, wearing a tuxedo collar, entered the chapel full of patient witnesses to the tune “Chapel of Love” (Going to the chapel / And we’re gonna get married), sung by Liesel Stephens, Senior Music Therapist, and Music Therapy interns Hannah Gore and Celeste Cler.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate Hope and Hunter,” said Jake Jacobson, Director of Public Relations, who officiated the ceremony. “Before these witnesses, Hunter takes Hope to be his lawfully wedded doggie bride; they bow-vow to love each other, share their banana and peanut butter together, today, tomorrow and forever.”

During the exchange of collars, Aimee Hoflander, Hunter’s primary handler, and Allison Bowring, Hope’s primary handler, (who doubled as matrons of honor) said “I do,” on behalf of their respective pooches; Hunter then kissed the bride (he really did)!

The blessed event was followed by a reception in the chapel garden, complete with “doggie bags” for the patient guests and a doggie wedding cake for the bride and groom.

The Golden Retrievers are managed by the CM Facility Dog Program and owned by Canine Assistants, an Atlanta-based organization that provides service dogs to individuals and facility dogs to pediatric hospitals across the country. CM’s Facility Dog Program is supported by generous donors. Hunter and Hope began their work at CM in summer 2015.

Therapy dogs are credited with helping to meet patients’ physical and emotional needs, including taking their minds off their pain and problems, reducing anxiety and promoting shorter recovery times.

Hope and Hunter have received widespread media attention, including recognition as 2017 Milk Bone Dogs Who Changed the World dogs who have worked hard to make a difference in the lives of humans and animals.


Learn more about the Facility Dog Program at Children's Mercy.