El Paso

Therapy dogs help patients at El Paso Children's Hospital

Therapy Dogs for Child Hospital Patients

EL PASO, Texas - For many, a trip to the hospital can be unwanted, uncomfortable and even uneasy.

For kids it can be downright traumatic.

El Paso Children's Hospital is trying to change that with the help of some furry friends.

"When you see somebody or a child that is upset or they're depressed or angry it's amazing how you can see the twinkles in their eyes their faces light up with a therapy dog," pet therapist Rhonda Strom said.

The gentle giant that walks down the hallways of El Paso Children's Hospital is named Bella.

The 7-year-old with piercing eyes is a therapy dog. On Tuesday, she visited 15-year-old patient Marlen Acosta.

"It's like a bond that you share with them," Marlen said.

Marlen was diagnosed with liver cancer a month ago.

"I do have to thank God because I'm a living miracle," he told ABC-7.

After several weeks in the hospital attached to machines and tubes, Marlen said a friendly face can make all the difference.

"She's kind of falling asleep," Marlen said laughing.

"The motivation it does bring them, in helping them take pills and walking, doing things that the therapists and nurses need them to do and really just calmness and conversation," Meghan Kamau said.

Kamau, a child life specialist said not only do therapy dogs provide comfort but there is evidence therapy dogs can bring some health benefits.

"It has proven to decrease blood pressure, to decrease respiration rates, increase oxygen levels," Kamau told ABC-7.

For Marlen, the start of the day can be harsh and filled with physical therapy and treatments but with a few pets for a furry friend;

"At the end of the day they help you with your problems," he said.

The El Paso Children's Hospital has three therapy dogs that see about 15 25 patients each week.

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