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Pet Therapy

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Darla Reed and Galvant visit dozens of patients at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego. They're one of 33 canine volunteer teams.

14-year-old Spencer Kerr is recovering after his fourth round of chemotherapy. Galant's visit takes his mind off the pain. "It's definitely the best part of the day is when a dog comes. They make me feel better."

The canine volunteers make about 15,000 playroom and bedside visits each year.

The program launched in 1990, and it's so popular that the wait list is two years long to become a dog team volunteer.

Studies by Therapy Dogs International and The American Humane Association found patients were happier, more alert and active, and less anxious when a pooch popped up. "When you walk into a room, as you saw, every one of those kids - and their parents, too - got a smile on their face."

Reed has seen the benefits. Her son, Grant, battled a brain tumor for years, but a bedside visit from a furry friend cheered him up. Grant got his own canine companion, Apache, who comforted him until he died. The experience inspired Reed to volunteer with Apache, and now Galant who proves why dogs really are a human's best friend.

Dogs involved in the Rady Children's Hospital's Canine Care Program have to complete a physical, pass a monthly temperament test, a loud noise test, and a 'pull' test to see how they'd react if child pulls on their tails.
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