ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Christmas Eve can be a special night for a child, but feeling jolly can be difficult if that night is spent in a hospital. Thankfully, there is an unlikely volunteer delivering a little holiday cheer to patients at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul.
Passion is a certified therapy dog.
“When you see the dog come in or the dog walking in and you look at those faces and they just completely brighten and smile. It’s a wonderful thing,” said volunteer Maureen Leach.
Maureen Leach was a nurse for 30 years. From the moment she saw her new puppy, she knew that she was destined to make a difference.
“You just really feel good hopping in and doing these little surprise visits on the kids,” said Leach.
Sarah is 14 and would much rather be at home or at the mall with her friends. Instead, she’s been in and out of the Hospital with a rare stomach disease. She lit up when Passion came bounding into her room.
The benefits of therapy dogs were first recognized in Army hospitals in Europe during World War II. The dogs are now recognized around the world as a vital part of the healing process. The pups have to go through a fair amount of training to gain certification, but the effort is well worth it for both the patients and the staff. The dogs are in high demand.
“It’s a huge bright spot in our day. We love all the dogs that come to visit,” said Registered Nurse Sydney Pederson.
It goes to show that the holiday spirit comes in all shapes and sizes on the night before Christmas.
To find out more about therapy dogs or to volunteer your pup, go to Pals On Paws.
WCCO-TV’s Kerry McNally Reports