Canine Candy Stripers

Dogs in hospitals are treating human patients with succor, creature comfort and unconditional love

The 65-year-old patient, hospitalized for quadruple-bypass surgery, had not moved or opened her eyes in days. Her relatives, grim-faced, stood around the bed. "They thought they had lost her," recalls Betty Walsh, a volunteer in the intensive-care unit at the UCLA Medical Center.

Then Walsh ushered in Kolya, a 145-lb. shaggy white Great Pyrenees, who climbed right up onto the woman's bed and snuggled against her body. Five minutes passed in silence. Then the woman's hand moved slowly toward the dog. She began to stroke his soft, thick coat. Another five minutes passed. The woman smiled and murmured, "So lovely..." "For...

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