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Asteroid and Orbit, 2 dogs, changing lives at Huntsville Hospital

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Two furry friends are changing lives.

Asteroid and Orbit are two golden retrievers who work at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children. The duo helps pediatric and adult patients, providing relief and support, because sometimes patients need more than a shoulder to lean on.

“It never gets old to watch the anxiety just fall off someone’s face,” said Victoria Snell, Orbit's handler.

Snell said parents and patients often say, “It was a hard day until Orbit walked in.”

Snell is looking for medical goals and prioritizing that in her daily work with patients, a mission that is made possible by a PetSmart Charities grant. The grant gives the care needed for dogs so they can provide service to patients at the hospital.

“If a kid needs to get up and walk after surgery and they’re reluctant about it, we can have Orbit come in, and they can take a walk with Orbit,” said Snell.

Huntsville Hospital is the first hospital in Alabama to have facility dogs.

“Our coordinator of the program, Stephanie, saw a big hole in things that needed help and support in the hospital,” said Snell.

The Canines for Coping program is filling the gap that Stephanie saw. Snell said they are hoping to expand the program within the Huntsville Hospital system soon, giving more support to patients and their families.

Canines for Coping is completely donor-funded. Huntsville Hospital Foundation and PetSmart Charities are continuing their partnership through 2023 to support the dogs and their selfless care for patients.

For more about Orbit, click here.

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