Angels In Our Midst

Angels In Our Midst

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Angels in our Midst (Therapaws)

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 01:43 PM CDT
Research has shown that pets can lower your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and "lift" your spirits. For a lot of patients, that's just what the doctor ordered.

We went on a recent hospital visit with a few Therapaws volunteers and their best "angel" friends.

Mea, the parti-poodle who's been on the job for two years. Cooper, the 100 lb. chocolate lab is a six year volunteer. And, our veteran of 11 years, Ellie, the min-pen. They're making their rounds at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital.

Audra Martin is one such patient who enjoys pet visits. "They come and see me just about every time I'm in the hospital. And they're good little buddies," she said.

The Therapaws undergo extensive training for a year to become those good little buddies. They seem to sense just what's needed by each child. Sometimes it's just the presence of a guardian angel.

Judy Delano, Mea's owner said, "I've had parents say this is the first time they've smiled since they've been at the hospital. Some of the children have just been crying and they'll see mea and all of a sudden, a smile or they'll pet her."

Wanda Sands brings Cooper for visits. "I know he knows what he's doing. He gets a lot of joy out of it," she said.

Jamarcus Mitchell says she appreciates the Therapaws volunteers. "I think it's real sweet how they come around for the kids and the babies.  Cause going through chemotherapy, at least put a smile on their face. You know, going through all of that, fighting all of the drugs," she said.

Their therapy has a healing affect beyond the patient.

Kathryn Daniel is an 11-year Therapaw volunteer. "These people up here work in extremely stressful situations everyday and I think it's just a little pressure breaker," she said.

And there are the children here who aren't patients.

"The siblings. It's hard sometimes to be the little sibling up here that isn't getting all of the attention and the resources. And so, the siblings, I try to really pay extra attention to them," said Daniel.

Some of the therapy dogs are in high demand and have pretty busy schedules.

Judy Delano is Therapaws volunteer. "We come here. We go to the nursing homes. We go to the Pace library and we do the read program. We go to Berryhill Elementary," she said.

For the children who are away from their own pets, it's a little taste of home. For them, all of the research and studies boil down to something quite simple.

Quentin Cooper says therapy dogs make his day. "Look, they're cute. Look at 'em. You can't help it. And then sometimes they do tricks like this one," said Cooper.

"It just like of brightens your day a little bit more," said Audra.

It brightens everyone's day.

"Oh, to see the smiles and to see the joy," said Judy.

"It's very heart-touching. It's a sense of joy just to know for about an hour, hour and a half I've spent some time with some very beautiful kids," said Wanda.


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Washington Times