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Our registered therapy dogs of the Amerman Family Foundation Dog Therapy Program have serviced CHLA patients with great pride. The 60 four-legged volunteers often bring a heartwarming and uplifting experience to many of our families and patients. A recent visit from one of these fur volunteers, McEnroe and his owner Linda Hall, proved just how much of an impact dog therapy makes.
One of our visits brought us to the room of a lovely young teenager, who had very limited speech capabilities and severe physical limitations. However, we didn’t have to talk to find out if she wanted a doggy visit. As soon as she saw McEnroe in the doorway of her room, her whole face lit up. She definitely wanted McEnroe up in the bed with her, and we were happy to accommodate. As he snuggled in beside her, she started to giggle and then the giggles grew into big belly laughs. She laughed at everything McEnroe did for the entire visit, and her enthusiasm was so infectious she had us laughing with her. For most of our visit, her mother seemed emotional and explained why. Her daughter had been at CHLA for some time and it was taking a toll on the young girl. The patient had been sad and withdrawn, and on the day of our visit was having a particularly tough time. The young girl’s mother said, “For my daughter’s entire stay at CHLA, I hadn’t once heard my daughter’s trademark big happy laugh.” To have the dog elicit that reaction when nothing else had worked meant everything to the girl’s mom. She was just delighted with the visit and thanked us over and over for stopping by.