07:15 AM

Service dogs help relax young patients at Children's Mercy Hospital

Children's Mercy Hospital isn't just for kids anymore, and people shouldn't be surprised to see a golden retriever roaming the halls.

The hospital's facility dog program is helping kids through their visits.

Devin Bohn spends a lot of time at Children's Mercy Hospital South. Hope, one of the dogs in the hospital's program, makes his hospital visits easier. Time with Hope helps patients and their families get relaxed.

"This is as calm as all of them have been since we got here," said Terra Bohn, Devin's mother.

Hope and her handler typically start their day by looking at the reports to see which children would benefit most from Hope's visit that day. She typically works with children who have epilepsy.

"It's proven to lower your blood pressure when you pet dogs," said handler Allison Bowring. "It's proven to lower your anxiety level."

Terra Bohn said Hope has a great effect on her son.

"People make him uncomfortable, so normally with so many people around, he would be on my lap, not saying anything to anybody," she said. "He doesn't even care that (KMBC's reporter and photographer) are here right now."

With a sweet, gentle calm, Hope can make a tough situation into a touching one.

"She puts her paws up, and then she very gingerly puts her back leg up and scoots into the bed," Bowring said. "She definitely doesn't do that at home. She leaps and bounds into bed, but at the hospital, she knows this is her work and she crawls up very nicely."

"I've never seen a big dog be so gentle," said Terra Bohn.

Hope works five days a week at Children's Mercy South in Overland Park. Another facility dog, Hunter, works at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

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