By DogHeirs Team | Jul 2012
Children at a Memphis hospital got a surprise visit from a furry friend when golden retriever Jake came to brighten up the ward.
Eight-year-old Jake visited Le Bonheur Children’s hospital in Memphis, Tennessee as a part of the hospital's new ‘Pet Therapy’ scheme.
The patients included 6-year-old Alex Gosa, who was joined by Jake in his room at the hospital yesterday.
Alex Gosa, 6, is visited by golden retriever Jake during his recovery after losing his toe in an accident
When he was told the dog is two years older than him the boy replied: ‘I’m catching up with him.’
He was airlifted to Le Bonheur’s intensive care unit after losing his toe in an accident two weeks ago.
The young boy is seen gently stroking the golden retriever as ‘doctor’s orders’ at the hospital calls for the children spending time with animals during their recovery.
Pet Therapy has resulted in a better outcome for the patients, according to staff at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.
Young Jalen Edwards, gently strokes Jake who came to visit him in his hospital bed. The Pet Therapy scheme has been in practice for two weeks with the children in the intensive care unit having better outcomes as a result
The scheme has been going on for two weeks and it is the first time animals have been allowed at the hospital’s intensive care unit.
Sara Burnett, spokesperson for the hospital, said both patients and staff benefit from the scheme.
‘We all stop and pet them. Grandparents do. Physicians do. Family members and siblings.
‘I think there is something disarming about seeing a dog in a hospital. It makes you stop your 'busyness' — to take a minute and pet a dog’
Jake arrives with his owner Larry Springer to brighten up the day for the young patients at Le Bonheur to help cheer up patients. A new trend at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital
Josuha Moore, 5, and his father Elmer receives attention from the eight-year-old dog at the hospital in Memphis
Patient Madeline Epps said: ‘If you are sitting in a bed for God knows how many days, weeks or months, it's a really nice way of feeling love.
'You can't get that sort of compassion from people.’
The treatment, more commonly known as AAT - animal-assisted therapy - has been used to treat patients with mental and physical health problems since the late 18th century.
A 2010 study published in the U.S. Early Childhood Education Journal showed that children in particular benefit from AAT.
It concluded that as a child perceives animals as non-judgmental it is easier for the child to build up a 'social and emotional support system' with them.