Joe Dimaggio Children’s Hospital has a new staff member and he has lots of cuddles and hugs to give.
Meet Freedom! The golden retriever is a member of the animal assisted animal therapy program at Memorial Healthcare System and is one of the six pet therapists that will help put smiles on children’s faces.
"At Memorial Health Care System we've had an animal assisted therapy program in place for the last ten years. We have started the program with one dog at Memorial Regional Hospital South and the program has grown so each hospital in the healthcare system has a dog that they own, they know about 80 commands," said Tracy Meltzer, Director of Nursing at Memorial Neuroscience Institute.
According to the JDCH team, all six dogs in the program have important jobs within each hospital.
"Freedom, our newest dog, his special gift is ability to be very calm. He is not distracted if a child is really excited to see him. He'll put himself in a down-stay position, where he lays on the floor. He is very gentle with the kids and he doesn't get distracted if somebody's excessively petting him hard or accidentally might get in his face. He just stays relaxed for that and also he is the first one that wants to be near somebody," said Meltzer.
"It just makes me so happy to see the dog when they walk through the door, because its like this little ball of happiness. it just brightens my day so much," said Alexa Keystone, a patient at the JDCH.