Therapy dog visits sick children on Christmas Eve - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Therapy dog visits sick children on Christmas Eve

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Being away from home for the holidays isn't always easy. But at Children's Hospital at Erlanger, many children will wake up on Christmas morning in a hospital bed.

So to help keep the holiday spirits high in the pediatric unit, some kids got a special surprise from a four-legged visitor Tuesday morning.

Cleo, the 10-year-old poodle, is a therapy dog. She was going from room to room on the pediatric floor, visiting sick children on Christmas Eve.

"It's nice to have some company," said patient, Caitlin Puckett, 16.

Caitlin will have to stay in the hospital until Monday, at least. She said having some extra hugs from Cleo helps her stay happy.

"It actually does help a lot," she said. "The dogs are really friendly and they're just like, 'Hello! We love you!' "

"It's just amazing, and it makes it worth it to be [at work] on Christmas Eve," said child life specialist, Maggie Butler.

Butler works with families, trying to bring some comforts of home to patients' rooms, whether it's a Christmas craft or a visit with a dog like Cleo.

"Getting to pet a dog is more therapeutic sometimes than even the medicine that the doctors give," Butler said.

Cleo's owner, Sherry Gish of Chattanooga, has been bringing Cleo to the hospital for eight years now. The pair visits the pediatric floor once a month.

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