Who’s a good boy? Charlie!

It starts with a knock on the door, then a friendly voice asking, “Would you like to see Charlie?” The voice belongs to Kim Mannor, and the inquisitive wet nose that juts into the hospital room—if the occupant says it’s okay—belongs to Charlie. He has a white coat, a certification and a business card, but he’s not a doctor. Charlie is a 96-lb, four-year-old English Golden Retriever that visits Peds and 9 East, accompanied by Kim, her husband Kevin and their daughter, Kelsay—members of Charlie’s human family.

As a Class of 2015 Mid-Michigan Therapy Dog graduate, Charlie is trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and other locations. He hits all three targets with his visits to Hurley, Whaley Children’s Center, Fiedler Elementary and many assisted living facilities. Charlie also helps his parents teach Sunday School at St. Andrew’s Church.

The Mannors have had him since he was 16 weeks old. He has undergone basic obedience and a 12-week course to become certified as a therapy dog. Now Charlie can see all pediatric patients as long as they’re not allergic or in isolation. Each day the Mannors are at Hurley, they get a list of potential patients from the nurses—and Charlie gets some loving before he starts his “rounds”.

Kim and Kelsay like seeing the patients’ faces light up when they realize who’s at the door.

“No one wanting to poke you or take your temperature, but someone who can share a few moments with you and hopefully brighten your day,” Kim said.

The Mannor family are active volunteers at Hurley.  For nine years, Kim and Kelsay have been selling popcorn in the lobby to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. They’ve also participated in Radiothons, Telethons, and bake sales, and for the past two months have been Cuddlers for babies in the NICU.

“We’ve always been a family that serves,” said Kim. “We love Hurley. They’ve been good to us.” One of triplets, Kelsay was born at Hurley along with her sisters and spent 8-10 weeks in the NICU. Kim and Kevin know firsthand what parents of children in the hospital go through. “Those are some long days,” Kim said. “We try to give them a sense of home. Because we know that people are missing home. And if you have a dog at home, it’s an icebreaker.”

In a hospital environment where kids might feel scared or uncertain, Charlie draws them out of their shells. Even a little boy who’d been bitten by a dog opened up to Charlie.

“You would think he’d be afraid, but he wanted to see Charlie,” Kim said.

“He’s kind of a person magnet,” added Kevin.

The benefits of Charlie’s visits aren’t limited to the patients. One time a little girl who was visiting refused to leave his side, even though her parents wanted to go.

“She was petting and petting him, and Charlie rolled on his back. It was just the sweetest thing ever. It was a moment between the two of them.”

Conversations, beautiful moments and a little comfort. That’s what Kelsay and her parents give the patients and visitors of Hurley when they bring Charlie for his Sunday visits.

Thank you, Kelsay, Kim, Kevin and Charlie for all you do to help the families at Hurley!

(script by Jennifer Kreft, video by Peggy Agar, photos by Doug Pike)

*See what surprises people most about Charlie and what Charlie likes most being at the hospital here:

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