Copper (Therapy Dog) is a Pro at Making Patients Smile

Copper (Therapy Dog) is a Pro at Making Patients SmileOur dog volunteers visit the hospital daily. They wear a purple bandanna and have their own Children’s Hospital Los Angeles identification badge. We’re proud of our dog volunteers because they do a lot of good for patients and families receiving care at the hospital. They help:

  • Comfort patients who cannot leave their rooms
  • Ease anxiety and pain before a procedure or while hospitalized

Each year, more than 60 volunteers bring trained and registered therapy dogs to visit our patients and families through the Amerman Family Foundation Dog Therapy Program. We recently heard about a memorable visit from one of our volunteer dogs, Copper and his owner (Deb Whitcas). We couldn't wait to share it with you.

"For the first time, the boy was eagerly engaged in something—adoring Copper."

Copper’s Memorable Visit

Copper and I were part way through an evening visit at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The patients were excited to see and pet Copper, and their parents seemed happy to see this spark of joy at the end of the day. It was all very normal, until we entered the room of a young boy and could immediately feel the tension in the air.

I asked if the patient and family would like a dog visit, and I was greeted with a very loud “yes!”  Though I didn't know why, the family seemed particularly relieved by my arrival, and the child eagerly invited Copper onto the bed for cuddles.

Within a few minutes, the patient’s doctor entered. I asked whether we should step out, but the doctor urged us to stay and continue the visit. The doctor and family explained that keeping the boy awake was their top priority at the moment. Since the child was air-lifted in for emergency tests earlier, they’d been working to keep him alert and awake. They tried talking and singing but nothing was working until Copper and I walked in.

For the first time, the boy was eagerly engaged in something—adoring Copper. While the family and doctor consulted, the patient played with Copper’s ears and began to ask me lots of questions about Copper.

As the doctor finished up her conversation with the family, she turned toward me and said “please feel free to stay as long as you can.” We settled in for a lengthy visit, and I told all of the crazy and funny Copper stories I could think of sharing.

Volunteering at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is always a humbling experience for me, and the smiles on the children’s faces keep Copper and me eager to come back for more. I know every visit makes a difference, but this encounter was particularly rewarding. I was so grateful that Copper and I were able to have such a positive impact at a critical time, and had helped complete a task the staff and family had been working so hard at that day. I often think of the patient and his family now, and wish them the very best.