Aimee the Animal Assisted Therapy Dog

Please Note: The dog in the accompanying photograph is the subject of the story, but any persons shown are probably not those in the story.

Photograph of Aimee dog

Just after Christmas in 2008, we were visiting at CHLA. I walked into a room where there was a very young child in a crib. I looked at the mother and asked her if the baby would like a visit with Aimee. She said no, explaining that her daughter was deaf and blind and wouldn't know the dog was there. Still, I asked her again if I could put Aimee on her daughter's bed. She said that the child was unresponsive to everything, but I could go ahead anyway. So I gently placed Aimee on the bed, and the girl immediately moved her head and brought her hand out from under the covers to touch Aimee.

Aimee seemed to understand that the girl was using her hands for all of her senses, and Aimee nudged the little girl with her nose to ask for more contact. The girl was smiling, and her head began moving from side to side. I looked over at her mother, thinking that maybe Aimee was getting her daughter too excited. The mother had tears in her eyes. She told me that she hadn't seen her daughter be so responsive in months. I knew then that Aimee had brought joy to the deaf and blind baby and had given the mother hope that her child might experience some real happiness in her life, even with the limited senses that she had.