"She's there to comfort me". Therapy pups help kids heal at CHOG

Friday, June 14, 2019
News 12 This Morning

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- They say dogs are a mans best friend, so who better to have around to comfort you when your sick? Lucky for some kids going through a rough time, these puppy cuddles are changing treatment for kids at the Children's Hospital of Georgia.

It was a shock to mom Danielle Sellers when doctors diagnosed her son Lucas with Leukemia two weeks before his seventh birthday.

"You just never think that something like that would happen to you," Sellers said. "It was just the most horrifying thing because he didn't know what was happening to him"

Now 15 Months into treatment, Lucas Says he's no longer scared of the hospital. In fact, he now looks forward to his visits.

"I just get to pet her and she's, like, there to comfort me," Lucas said about Casey and Nugget, CHOG's therapy pups.

Puppy cuddles can make all the difference with these two therapy dogs, Casey and Nugget.

"Therapeutics can be anything from helping with a procedure to helping kids cope with the hospital," said Nugget's handler Harleigh Smith and Casey's handler Macie Meeks.

"It's a sigh of relief that he can forget about having chemo and just be a kid," Sellers said.

"They're kind of just an extra tool in our tool belt to make the hospital a little less scary and I little more fun," the handlers explained.

Lucas agrees that Nugget and Casey definitely make the hospital less scary.

"It's great to have Nugget by my side because it's like distracting from like all the other stuff and like it helps time fly," Lucas told us.

The handlers and dogs Also work to desensitize kids to medical equipment that looks scary.

"I use Casey a lot to be the patient, and so we give Casey a checkup."

"To see it on a dog I think just adds like an extra added, oh okay, the dog's letting her do that, I think I can handle that too."

For a long time it was just Nugget, but now with Casey there to help they can visit a lot more kids.

"I feel a lot less pressure and a lot less guilt when I leave every day knowing that there's an extra set of four paws walking around," said one handler.

Sellers loves that these precious pups are around to help kids like Lucas.

"It's really nice and I wish all hospitals had a dog," she laughed.

This summer the dogs have a chance to get out of the hospital for summer camps.

The Children's Hospital puts on these camps for cancer patients, those with heart conditions. You name it, they probably have a camp for it.

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