TEMPLE, TX — McLane Children’s has a dedicated staff member who visits patients with his handler.
Lorenzo is a 4-year-old labrador retriever/golden retriever mix who is specially-trained in working with children and adults as a facility dog of the hospital.
Leah Woodward is his handler, and a Child Life Specialist for the hospital who says her job is made easier with the help of Lorenzo.
He was trained since birth through Canine Companions for Independence. The nonprofit trains and provides assistance dogs, free of charge.
She says Lorenzo often breaks the ice and helps ease any stress.
The labrador retriever has been with the hospital for nearly two years, and he has formed special connections during his time there.
Lily Stracener is an 11-year-old patient who enjoys time spent with Lorenzo.
She says when he is around, “I feel happy and calm and like all the stress, what I’m worried about that day just goes away.”
Lily says when physical therapy gets challenging, “I have one full leg and one not really full.” But, she says having Lorenzo along is helpful. “I don't know how to explain it, he just makes you comfortable. He’s very encouraging.”
Lorenzo’s duties don’t stop with patients. “One of the things that we have found is, not only do our patients and families benefit from his support, but staff does as well.”
Lorenzo’s support is sought throughout the hospital. They say he acts as a welcome distraction for kids and support for staff.