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‘It’s about them:’ Therapy dogs return to UPMC Children’s Hospital


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    PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — If dogs are man’s best friend, then they’re angels to kids at UPMC Children’s Hospital.

Eddie is one of 14 dogs helping to lift the spirits of patients at Children’s. Eddie is a 7-and-a-half-year-old cream English lab.

In the past year, since returning from a pandemic pause, 14 pet therapy teams, including Eddie and his handler Jim Caprio have made close to 13,500 visits through the Pet Friends Program.

While it may be Eddie’s wet kisses and wagging tail that bring joy to the young patients, Caprio said it’s the dog’s handler that also helps to provide a pleasant distraction for kids and parents.

“It’s the dog, the dog is cool, but you, the handler, have to be a big part of it,” he said. “I mean, these people want to talk, they want to talk about their dog, they want to talk about their stay. It’s not about you or the dog, it’s about them.”

Caprio said through Canine Companions, an organization that trains and provides assistance dogs. They hope to get more volunteers for the hospital’s Pet Friends Program.

He added they also hope to eventually get what’s called a “facility dog” for UPMC Children’s.

That means there would be a dog on the hospital’s campus every day.

Thanks to Eddie, a very good boy, and Jim, also a very good boy, for all that they do!

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