It's hard to say who gets more out of Kent Morton's visit with his therapy dog, Sophie, to University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital: Morton, or the patients and families he sees.
Sophie, a mixed breed pooch who loves to perform a practiced swing dance routine with her master, is one of several certified therapy dogs that visit the hospital regularly as part of Bark Avenue on Parade, a nonprofit volunteer organization that makes stops at several hospitals in the Twin Cities area.
On Saturday, the group came to University of Minnesota Children's Hospital, where the dogs and their handlers performed a short dog show in the hospital lobby, then made their way up to our patient wards to visit children and their families.
"We get a lot out of this, we're always thanked by everybody when we come in. But in truth...it's something we wouldn't miss, something we enjoy, and it's just a joy to be here at the hospital once a month," Morton said.
Morton and Sophia are one of five owner-and-therapy-dog pairs that came to the children's hospital on Saturday.
"I had no idea when I started doing this, what a gratifying experience it really was," said Linda Nelson, who brought her Samoyed, Beau, to the hospital on Saturday. "I come away feeling like i have really done something, and it requires so little on my part."