New ‘Pen Paws’ program allows sick children to connect with the dogs who help comfort them
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Someone once described to me that we all have to find a lighthouse, someone who we can look to when the seas are choppy, who can remind us where home is. For many Children at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the hospital’s 14 facility dogs are lighthouses.
”I got my surgery today, two actually...after she came and said hi and snuggled up with me,” said 10-year-old Max Moore, speaking about his favorite facility dog, Flo.
Max Moore is almost 11 years old. He has a very rare disease that has only been documented in about 150 people in the world. He has bonded with Flo the facility dog, one of more than a dozen dogs specifically trained to work with children in the hospital as part of the Canines for Kids program.
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“As an employee, she was paired with me and now Flo is considered an employee. She comes with me every day I come to work,” said Ellie Armstrong with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
“Her and me just get along...she was nice and soft and I loved her,” said Max.
There are times in between treatments or on busy days when Max doesn’t get to see Flo, now there is a program at the hospital that helps him stay in contact. It is called Pen Paws, kids can write to the dogs who comfort them, and they might even get a response back!
I asked Max what he thought of us, doing a whole story on Flo and the other facility dogs. He says she deserves all the praise people can give her.
“She is an amazing dog and she helps a lot of people,” said Max.
He wishes he could see her all of the time, but now, he knows, she is only a letter away.
“Flo is magic,” said Max
“Yeah, Flo is magic. I just feel so fortunate to be a part of it,” said Ellie.
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