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Dogs bring big smiles to patients at East Tennessee Children's Hospital for first time in a year

Volunteers and animal visitors with the HABIT team were able to finally return to ETCH this week for their first visit in a year.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — After a year-long hiatus amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some very special guests were finally able to return to East Tennessee Children's Hospital this week to make patients smile!

Guinness and Murphy, two pups that are part of the Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee (HABIT) program, were finally able to return to the hospital after a whole year of waiting.

The two dogs couldn't stop wagging their tails as they greeted excited patients Monday and Tuesday. Needless to say, it was a treat for both them and the patients. 

Credit: ETCH
Guinness spends some time with a patient at ETCH after being away for a year.

"Their eyes just lit up, and they were so happy that a dog had come back, so it's a great program. It means so much to me, it means a lot to Guinness, and hopefully it means a lot to the kids and the staff," Guinness' owner Foster Arnett said.

The HABIT program is made up of volunteers from the community, representatives from the UT College of Veterinary Medicine and private veterinary practitioners.

HABIT sponsors programs that bring pets into nursing homes, hospitals, and other settings where their presence can bring comfort and cheer.

Credit: ETCH
Murphy and a patient share some smiles at ETCH. It's the first time Murphy has been back in nearly a year.

If you are interested in learning more about the program, visit the UT College of Veterinary Medicine's website here.


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