AUSTIN -- Sometimes the best medicine doesn't come in the form of a pill. Wednesday at Dell Children's Medical Center -- it walked through the doors on four legs. The Woody Pet Therapy program is marking 25 years, so it's been a vital part of treatment at Dell Children's since it opened.
The irrepressible smiles from the patients can only mean one thing: It's pet therapy day at Dell Children's Medical Center.
"I like the doggies because some of them look really cute," said Rebecca Shugart, a 7-year-old patient at Dell Children's.
"They're so happy," said Makayla Uribe, a 12-year-old patient at Dell Children's. "It's just you feel happy."
Dogs like Callie are a hit with the kids. If you don't think they're the stars of the show, check out their own player cards. Other indications the dogs are celebrities – the sunglasses to go incognito. They even handed out their paw-tographs.
"For the child life department, we provide the play," said Carley McCaw, a Child Life assistant at Dell Children's. "We bring the joy to the hospital. The pets do the exact same thing."
While the animals are the focus of attention, the kids benefit from a therapy that isn't medicine or treatment.
"I've been here enough to know that's probably my favorite kind therapy," said Uribe.
Uribe is here for her 24th brain operation in less than three years. She says pet therapy works and lasts long after the dogs have gone home.
"You just kind of feel happy afterwards," she said. "When you feel that happy it's hard to focus on pain and medicine."
"It makes me feel like I'm not at the doctor," she said.
Parents also see the value.
"Being able to play and they're not dressed like doctors," said Margaret Hrycych, Rebecca's mother. "It's not actual medicine, but it's helping her."
Healing in Glass, is a new children's book. It celebrates 25 years of the Woody Pet Therapy Program with photos and biographies of the dogs.
Go here to see the Mosaic associated with those 25 years.