Kids get four-legged help with therapy - FOX 13 News

Kids get four-legged help with therapy

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Seven-year-old Kendrick Davis works on his speech.  It's part of his recovery at St. Joseph's Hospital after being hit by a car last year.

"They were carelessly driving and they hit him," said his father, Christopher Phillips.

Since then, he's had to relearn everything.

Now, thanks to a new friend, it's all starting to come back.

"George has helped us as far as sequencing, working on simple tasks, simple functional tasks such as getting ready for bed, which is much more fun than just talking or looking at pictures before you get ready for bed," said Coleen Ritari, Speech Language Pathologist at St. Joseph's.

"Go over there George," Kendrick said slowly, as he tried to show George a toy he had hidden.

"There's a marked difference between how much they'll play for me and how much we're able to accomplish in a session when it's just me and some toys verses when it's me and George," Ritari added.

George's owner, Julie Scott, says volunteering with children is a love she and this labradoodle both share.

She said, "He's just a dog that loves, loves people.  Every person he sees, every dog he sees, every child, every grown up, he just wants to say hello and meet them and make them smile."

Using a therapy dog, may be just the right trick to help kids like Kendrick see the real rewards of therapy.

"He wants to grow up to play football and be a cop you know, he was a happy kid and like I said, I'm grateful he's here and getting good treatment."

And you can see just how much George enjoys it.

"It's just a great way to give back to our community and he's the perfect dog for it."

St. Joseph's has about a dozen dog therapy teams coming to the hospital each week. 

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