LEO — Therapy

Charity Partner: Pet Partners
Location: Moon Township, Pennsylvania

Leo has been visiting The Children’s Institute in Pittsburgh for over 10 years where children with special needs are lovingly cared for. He has an uncanny ability to make each child feel like they are the most important one in his life and demonstrates the impact of laughter and love on a daily basis. For years he worked with children having Prader-Willi Syndrome, a complex genetic disorder. Walking slowly with each child, he would maneuver carefully around oxygen tanks and make each child giggle hysterically by asking for a belly rub during the walk, sniffing at a door where toys were kept or hearing about the times he sneaks things out of my closet. They loved his antics and couldn’t wait for more. He met a young girl who had completely shut down, not spoken for days. Leo was extremely gentle with her and was fascinated by her beaded necklace. She allowed him to get close enough to sniff the necklace and give her a kiss on her face. He wagged his tail incessantly and she smiled while remaining silent. When it came time for us to leave, she grabbed my arm and very softly said “I love Leo”. It was a moment that I and the nurses would never forget. He spent days with a teen who had tragically lost her eyesight, she asked that he join her in critical therapy sessions . Today he impacts the lives of children with Autism and continues to teach self-confidence. The Day School at the Institute recently dedicated a children’s book in our honor for which Leo deserves all the credit.

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