Therapy dog brings smiles to young patients at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital
It’s not easy to maneuver through a crowded hospital room, but Sadie the dog was on a mission to cheer up the pediatric patients at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital with a minimum of tail-banging.
The former rescue dog was adept at hopping lightly onto the beds, tail tucked low, and offering a cuddle to any child who wanted a visit and didn’t mind a bit of friendly puppy breath.
The hospital’s pet therapy program is a welcome distraction for the patients, said Kim Wagner, coordinator of the Mapp Child and Family Life Program. “It gets the child’s mind off of being in the hospital … a child who hasn’t responded or smiled in days will have a great reaction to a visit.”
The pet visits are organized through the hospital’s Volunteer Services department and the Mapp program. The hospital offers pet therapy on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.
Sadie and her handler, volunteer Marty Henken, brought out many smiles as she made her rounds. “She’s so cute,” crooned Marsha Wheeler, 12, as she stroked Sadie’s coat. Marsha, a student at Semmes Middle School, was undergoing treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, said her mother, Crystal Kelley. Sadie carefully accepted a doggie treat and performed a couple of tricks for Marsha.
At the next stop, Sadie stretched out across the bed next to Raven Walker, 18, who was undergoing treatment for lupus. “She loves to have her belly rubbed,” Henken said.
Sadie’s gentle manner even won over Justin Huber, 7, who wasn’t used to dogs and was hesitant to interact. “She likes me,” he said to his mother, Amanda Huber.
At each visit, Henken hands out calling cards on Sadie’s behalf. They have a portrait of Sadie and a slogan: “I hope I brightened your day!”
~ Courtesy of Alabama Local News