AKRON, Ohio - Doctors aren't the only ones making rounds at Akron Children's Hospital.
Each week the hospital system opens its doors to a furry, four-legged visitor. And while it might not be exactly what the doctor ordered, Petie the Pony's weekly visits to Akron Children's Hospital sure don't seem to hurt.
"We just saw it walk down the hall and I thought I was seeing things and then they said yes that is a horse and he would be back up to see her. So she was really excited. I don't think she believed me when I said there was a horse in the hallway," said Carla Queen of New Middletown.
Petie has been bringing smiles to the faces of patients at Akron Children's Hospital since 1997. The 21-year-old Shetland miniature pony cross also makes stops at area nursing homes and schools and has even been featured in national magazines.
"He is the only pony in the country, that we know, that is certified to go room to room in an actual hospital. There are horses I think that maybe visit nursing homes and things like that, but to actually go inside a hospital and to ride the elevator and do room to room visits, he is the only one," said Kim Gustley with Victory Gallop.
And while he may be small in stature, the impact he leaves behind is a big one.
"She was smiling. She is happy now and not quite as bored I don't think," said Queen.
"It brings happiness and joy and it gives the parents and the child something to talk about, something for the staff to talk to the children about. So, it's fun," said Gustley.
Petie usually spends about an hour visiting with patients. His handlers say he can see as many as 20 kids within that time.