Best Friends Bash: CHOP patients meet dogs with similar health issues

- The healing powers of pet therapy were at work Tuesday night at Penn Vet where a very special party was held.

It was the 4th Annual Best Friends Bash.

The event brings together children with facial differences who are patients at CHOP, and dogs that have had their fair share of health problems.

"I really love seeing them. I play with them sometimes. They are really adorable,"a young girl named Paige explained."

Paige formed an instant bond with a golden retriever named Emma. The dog has facial differences, just like the 14-year old. 

"I feel sympathy to them because I know what they are going through," Paige said of the dogs.

That is the whole idea behind the Best Friends Bash. It brings cranial facial patients from CHOP together, in a unique way, with dogs that have similar health challenges.

"I think it brings them out of their shell. It brings them into the world," explained Dr. Scott Bartlett, Chief of Plastic Surgery at CHOP. 

Mary has been through a lot in young life, but, she doesn't let it get her down.

"Everyone is different," she explained, "Even dogs too, it's not just human's that are different."

This party celebrates those differences. The children see that they are not alone and that they can be happy. Just like their four-legged friends.

"Kids can really open up to them," Mary added. 

Lisa Serad coordinates this specialized pet therapy at CHOP, and her dog Tarot is one of the therapy dogs.

"It really helps put things in perspective when a parent tells you it's the first time their kid smile in a week or two weeks. I think it really says something about the joy a dog can bring to their kids," Lisa explained.

It's not just the children who benefit. Everyone, including the dogs benefit!

"Dogs get all the attention they want, and the children, there is a special something between the child and the dog," explained Dr. Alexander Reiter of Penn Vet,

"If we can make a kid forget they're in the hospital for five minutes, then it is all worth it," Lisa said.

The children involved are remarkable. Some have had as many as 50 surgeries, and so these dogs inspire them to stay strong, and know that "different" is good in every way.

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