Everywhere Leo Bell goes he brings happiness with him, as if it were hanging along side his hospital employee name badge.
Leo is a golden retriever. He's also a pet therapy volunteer for Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital that visits patients during some of the most difficult times of their lives.
"There's a lot of research out there about the value of pet therapy for patients," said Karen Bell, pet therapy volunteer and Leo's owner.
Bell, who raised Leo from a puppy, said Leo has several characteristics that make him the perfect dog for this particular line of work.
"He's relaxed, loving , compassionate, and he wants to make people happy," Bell said. "He was made to do this job."
Hospital staff and patients alike stop what they're doing the moment Leo walks into the room. Leo becomes the focus of attention, and all the negativity and sadness in the room, be it medical or otherwise, seem to blow away with the wag of his long, hairy tail.
Leo takes on an important role at the hospital; one that he seems to thouroughly enjoy.
"He's addicted to being petted," Bell said. "It gives patients a chance to take a break from being a patient."
Leo is one of only a few certified pet therapy dogs at the hospital. A recent expansion of the program has created a demand for additional pet therapy dogs.
Volunteer Services Coordinator Tina Strait is currently on the lookout for dogs with a similar disposition to Leo's to help share the load. Dogs must be certified in pet therapy before they can be considered for the job.
Contact Tina Strait for more information on pet therapy or to volunteer yourself or your dog 734-246-6053.