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Imagine a Better St. Louis: Dogs show healing power at local hospital Imagine a Better St. Louis : Dogs show healing power at local hospital

More than a dozen highly trained, volunteer dogs are working their magic alongside doctors and nurses at St. Louis Ch...

Posted: Dec 21, 2017 8:58 PM
Updated: Dec 21, 2017 8:59 PM

More than a dozen highly trained, volunteer dogs are working their magic alongside doctors and nurses at St. Louis Children's Hospital.

The dogs weave through the halls of the hospital, popping in to see patients who need a smile, a puppy kiss, or just someone to visit.

"She almost has the ability to look into your soul," said Julie Hibbard, a volunteer with the TOUCH Dog Therapy program, who brings her dog Izzy to the hospital. "She's super sweet. She's intuitive. She can tell how you're feeling. If you're feeling sad, she snuggles in a little bit closer."

On this day, Izzy knew who needed her the most.

"Here, we can hold it together," Julie said to a young patient as they held Izzy's paw together.

"Jenna has cerebral palsy and is quadriplegic," said Chantelle Sanderson, Jenna's mom. "She was in tears because she wanted a visitor. She was hoping for a service dog. She was hoping for a person. I'm so serious. We had seriously just finished praying that she would be able to feel better and then the knock on the door and this beautiful Izzy arrives."

"What do you think Izzy's purpose is?" asked Hibbard.

"Make people happy," responded Jenna.

Izzy is one of 18 dogs in the TOUCH therapy program. Along with their volunteering owners, they visit children throughout the hospital. It takes years of training to join the program.

"Jumping up in bed, being around wheelchairs, or walkers, even in elevators, different surfaces she walks on, even noises. There's a lot of noises that happen at the hospital that she might not hear at home," said Hibbard.

These dogs also have a healing power that can't be taught.

"It changed everything today," said Sanderson of the few minutes her daughter got to spend with Izzy.

It's a common response.

"I get to witness miracles every time we come," said Hibbard.

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