Pet therapy dog gets results for young patients at Nemours Children’s Health in Lake Nona

Winston, an Australian Labradoodle, has been stopping by the hospital for 5 years

LAKE NONA, Fla. – Erin Bock and her Australian Labradoodle, Winston, are volunteers at Nemours Children’s Health in Lake Nona.

For the last five years, the two have visited multiple young patients who are just simply in need of a smile.

“It’s so fulfilling. It’s an experience, a feeling in your heart, that I can’t even articulate,” Bock said.

Bock said the hospital is Winston’s favorite place to spend his time, more so on the weekends, and he’s also getting results for staff members.

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“We like to fill that schedule on the weekends when sometimes there’s not a pet therapist, but we love it. We love coming on the weekends and holidays because they are not expecting us,” Bock said.

Winston started his training when he was 10 weeks old and became certified as a therapy dog in 2018.

At the hospital, Bock explained there have been several emotional encounters, which is why the two keep coming back to help out.

“It’s mostly when you have patients that are here for a long time and you know Winston will get on the bed with them,” she said. “I lay like a sheet down, so he’s not actually on them, there’s a barrier, but you know they would just snuggle up to him and you know they are missing their dog and they are missing their home but they are so happy in that moment.”

Winston isn’t the only one getting results. Dozens of other dogs are part of Nemours’ Pet Therapy Program.

On the fourth floor of the hospital, there’s a wall dedicated to each dog that has volunteered over the years.

“He just provides a lot of joy and brings a lot of comfort,” she said.

News 6 and Nemours Children’s Health will host a phone bank on April 17 to get results for young patients and their families.

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About the Author:

Ezzy Castro is a multimedia journalist on News 6's morning team who has a passion for telling the stories of the people in the Central Florida community. Ezzy worked at WFOR CBS4 in South Florida and KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, where she covered Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Being from Miami, Ezzy loves Cuban coffee and croquetas!