The Josh and Friends Project


Canine therapy dogs have been around for years and often comfort patient’s in hospitals with their unconditional love. As an extension to that mission, the Josh and Friends Project emerged by introducing children to the book “I’ll Be OK” and a cuddly stuffed animal named Josh. The goal was to help children overcome the overwhelming anxiety of a hospital stay.

The story of “Josh” originated when a veterinarian from Tennessee was frustrated by the lack of materials available to help explain surgery to young children as patients. His daughter was undergoing a tonsillectomy and he was concerned with her anxiety level. In 1999 he wrote a story called “I’ll Be OK” about a fictitious dog named Josh, his surgery, and his adventure toward getting well again.

Each “I’ll Be OK” book comes with a cuddly “Josh” dog in its own cardboard dog house.

There is nothing like seeing the face of a child who receives this plush “Josh” dog while in the hospital. Many parents report that it becomes their child’s best friend for years to come.

The GI Josh Program started as a connection between the Detachment of Arizona Sons, the Child Welfare Foundation (CWF) and Josh Dogs group. This was created to bring some level of comfort to children of deployed servicemen and servicewomen. Children struggle with separation issues when parents are deployed and the whole “I’ll Be OK” piece is helpful here as well. Children do learn coping mechanisms and skills through the story/book that features Josh and his friend Smudge.

The Sons of The American Legion have been supporting the Josh Dogs Project as well as the GI Josh Dogs for many years now. Everyone that has ever given out a Josh Dog kit is aware of the look on the child’s face that is priceless and immediate connection that is made.

For more information on the Josh and Friends Project please contact our Squadron or visit read more online at: