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Dog therapy happens all day and into the evening at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, as the four-legged volunteers of the Amerman Family Foundation Dog Therapy Program do their rounds right up until visiting hours end at 9PM.
One frequent night-visitor is therapy dog Luna, a friendly Golden Retriever who got her name, in part, because she has a small white moon-shaped crescent on her nose. And fittingly, for a dog named after the moon, she shines during evening and night visits at CHLA.
Like many of her fellow therapy dogs, Luna loves having a job! As soon as she jumps out of the car in the CHLA parking lot, she knows exactly where she is and what’s expected of her. She’s become a pro at riding elevators – once an odd experience – and brightens up the second the doors open and deliver her to the CHLA lobby. She’s ready to make friends and prompt smiles from the first moment, and struts joyfully down the hallways to greet as many people as she can.
On a given night, Luna and her handler, Max, might be tasked with visiting patients on nearly any inpatient hospital unit. They also visit the staff, and nurses at the start of a long overnight shift are among Luna’s biggest fans.
Every patient visit is different. Sometimes a patient wants to chatter to Luna about his own dog or cat or pet lizard, or ask questions about the fun facts on Luna’s trading card. Does she really have friends who are cats and does she really snore? (Yes and yes!) Sometimes the patient doesn’t care about talking, but just wants to pet Luna and drift off to sleep. Sometimes the parents need a quick re-energizing, or a crowd of family and friends wants to photograph Luna in her signature, silly pose of lying on her back, raising all four legs, and smiling. Either way, Luna is a crowd favorite and is always willing to be a comforting friend.