Doggie Brigade offers relief for sick children - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Doggie Brigade offers relief for sick children

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BOARDMAN, Ohio - One of the best medicines for a sick child might be a visit from a pet, and at Akron Children's Hospital of the Mahoning Valley, one volunteer makes that possible.

The Doggie Brigade was started 20 years ago. One brigade leader, Mary Schneider, and her ten-year-old dog Tinsley take part in the cause.

Schneider says that every time her and her dog walk in to a room, the childrens' faces light up.

"There's a story in every room," she says.

One of those rooms is the room of Aiden Puskar, who visits Children's Hospital regularly to monitor a blood disorder. 

On a particularly rough day for Puskar, a visit from Tinsley was a comfort and a nice distraction.

"It takes his mind off all the needles pricking him and poking him," says Puskar's mother Sally. "It takes his mind off the pain."

Schneider says she thinks it has a calming effect on the children.

"It's ther relief that it's something different than what they're going through during the time," Schneider says.

Schneider hopes to train another dog in the future, because she says the gift of bringing comfort to a sick child is the greatest reward.

"I would really like to get another dog, train it from a puppy on and do this with another dog," she says.

There are 8 or 9 volunteer invloved with the Dogge Brigade in the Mahoning Valley, and more than 80 on the Akron Children's main campus.

The hospital is always looking for more volunteers. Dogs must pass a rigorous screening and veterinary test to be a part of the program.

The most popular dogs in the group are golden retrievers and labrador retrievers.



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