ENCINITAS, Calif.—Every Friday, Doc the dog visits patients at Scripps Memorial Hospital to help patients heal.
Doc is one of 14 canines roaming the halls of the hospital in the dog ambassador program. Among the patients who smile when he visits is Nora Cochrane, who broke her hip earlier this month. This is her third stay in the hospital. She says some days are better than others.
"When you have to put up with three hip surgeries -- bless the pain of the hip surgery -- it's difficult," said Cochrane.
But when Doc makes his visits, her pain seems to disappear.
Doc's handler, Art Schulze, knows all too well the healing power behind dog therapy. Three years ago, Schulze underwent open heart surgery. There were complications: he got pnemonia, had a stroke, suffered from blood clots and almost died. He lay in a coma until a furry friend came to his bedside.
"After 30 days in a coma, I awoke to my brother's dog on my bed, licking my face," said Schulze. "After that, I realized that is what I should to do, and that's when I got Doc."
Hospital staff is just as excited to see Doc as the patients.
"It creates a moment of escape, a rainbow, unconditional love that modern medicine can't provide," said the Scripp's pet ambassador coordinator.
Patients say Doc can make a cold hospital room feel like home. But at the end of the day, even this Doc gets a little tired. As he gathers enough energy to make onemore round, people at the hospital can truly say, Doc the dog is man's best friend.