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Therapy dog celebrates 15th birthday raising money for Fla. Hospital pet program

Aluzja is longest-serving therapy dog at Fla. Hospital for Children

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ORLANDO, Fla. – For more than 10 years, a therapy greyhound named Aluzja has been wagging his way into children's hearts at the Florida Hospital.

Aluzja's very special wish for his birthday this year was to raise $1,500 for the pet therapy program at Florida Hospital for Children. On Wednesday morning, patients helped celebrate his birthday, but the real party won't be held until Feb. 28 when it's announced how much money Aluzja has helped raise. 

According to a Florida Hospital news release, more than 30 pet therapy teams volunteer at Florida Hospital, where they visit rooms and assist with physical therapy. Aluzja is the longest-serving therapy dog at the hospital. 

“Therapy dogs like Aluzja provide motivation, encouragement, recreation and rehabilitation to patients and their families,” said Meagan Krizek, volunteer manager at Florida Hospital for Children, in a news release. “I have watched Aluzja bring smiles and healing into the hospital through the years, and the entire Florida Hospital for Children team is grateful to Jim and Aluzja for continuing to serve here and for the generosity they are demonstrating.”

Aluzja’s owner and handler, Jim Wagner, said seeing the joy in kids faces is rewarding. 

“Our only payment is the smiles we give to kids,” Wagner said in a release. “We go in [a patient’s room], and by the time we leave, they’re smiling and laughing.”

Aluzja's community birthday party will be at Lake Baldwin Park on Feb. 28 at noon, where the results of the fundraiser will be revealed.