Therapy dog helps patients recover in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA - July 18, 2012

"Oh, what a good dog!" said one patient, scratching Ford's head.

And Ford isn't just any dog. This golden retriever is the first four-legged member of Magee Rehabilitation Hospital's Facility Dog Program in Center City.

He works alongside occupational therapists like Cate Dorr, helping patients recover from a wide range of injuries.

"When you bring Ford into sessions," Dorr told Action News, "we have patients instinctually work on movements."

While Ford can certainly fetch, his skill set goes way beyond your average dog. He is highly trained.

From assisting patients as they learn to recover from falls to guiding them in forcefully exhaling as they come off a ventilator, this canine knows more than 90 different commands.

Ford's work at Magee is made possible through The Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation, honoring a 21-year-old woman who passed away in 2009 after being struck by a distracted driver.

"Our daughter just loved animals," said Casey's mother, Dianne Anderson. "It's a wonderful thing in her name and memory."

Terry Boyer of Lititz, Pa. explains how Ford helped him in ways a machine simply couldn't. Boyer lost his leg in a devastating motorcycle accident, and relied on Ford as he gradually gained balance and confidence.

"Ford knows to stay and be there for you," said Terry. "So it just makes you a lot more comfortable."

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