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Published on June 14th 2022
Parks the dog: A godsend to hospitalized children.

Parks (left) and Kimberly Burbage
Parks (left) and Kimberly Burbage work together at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, Florida. photo: foxnews.com

Parks, a 2-year-old yellow Labrador with floppy ears and a wagging tail happily helps children in the Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.

If a sick child needs some love, he cuddles with them. If encouragement to walk or exercise is needed, he is their partner.

And he does so much more:

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Parks knows at least 40 commands and is learning more.

Parks photo: nypost.com

In addition to sit, stay and shake hands, he uses his snout to turn light switches on and off, and his body to move objects.

With ropes, he opens and closes doors, and with a handler, plays cards, taking a card from one player and giving it to another.

Child-life specialist Kim Burbage, a 15-year children's hospital employee said Parks plays an important role. "He is definitely a huge part of our team," she told The Washington Post.

In choosing Parks, she wanted a dog that could be a "therapeutic tool" in helping children and adolescents deal with heart rendering diagnoses.

His good nature, his playfulness and his self-control are ideal, as is his ability to lovingly meet the medical, emotional and physical needs of each child.

Parks came from Canine Companions, a Santa Rosa, California non-profit that breeds and trains expertly skilled service dogs, and provides ongoing support.

Robyn Bush, a trainer at Canine Companions, hugging Parks.
Robyn Bush, a trainer at Canine Companions, hugging Parks. photo: washingtonpost.com

It takes nearly two years and costs about $50,000 to train a dog, which is offered free to qualified participants, with donors paying the expense.

These dogs "have a very strong impact day to day, but also a lifelong impact on patients," said Robyn Bush of Canine Companions to The Post.

"It's wonderful to see them touch so many lives."

Editor's Note: To learn more washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2022/04/05/service-dog-hospital-orlando-canine/, canine.org/ and twitter.com.

In the next KazanToday: A Los Angeles area RV Park owner who helps those in need.

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