Therapy dogs spreading cheer at Chicago children's hospital

A Chicago children's hospital just launched a dog therapy program, and it's giving one little boy a new reason to visit La Rabida Children's Hospital every Tuesday — beyond his standing OT appointment.

"I love it. I feel it's a good thing for kids to get to know the dog," said the boy's mother, Jaquita Dorsey.

Two dogs from the Cook County Sheriff's Office will be at La Rabida once a week, helping to make a trip to see the doctor more enjoyable and less stressful.

"Our therapy dogs are something we're wildly proud of. The role they play is incalculable to all the people the dogs interact with," said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

The dogs named Zilly and Ella will be at the South Side hospital in the outpatient program, giving patients and families a breather.


"These therapy dogs will be available every Tuesday for everybody to come and take a moment to relieve their stress," said Megan Dwyer, La Rabida Children's Hospital Media Relations.

The pups are not just for the patients, but for hospital workers, too, who've had a couple of very tough years.

"The dogs come to visit the staff and seeing them pet them, snuggle with them, just being in the room with them, getting a paw, it's just really remarkable," said Brenda Wolf, La Rabida CEO.

The dog named Ella is named after Chicago Police Officer Ella French, who was killed in the line of duty last year.

"Officer French was a very kind and caring person, and Ella is kind of carrying on that legacy," said Renee Ortega, Therapy Dog Handler.

Already, Ella's handler has seen the dog work her magic with a little boy.

"Just seeing him light up by just seeing a dog, otherwise they're just coming for a doctor's appointment, but this is amazing and it makes me feel good to be able to do this. This is phenomenal," said Ortega.

Because of what could be a frightening trip, kids now have two best friends to count on.