Your Town Friday: Murphy the dog and his love for one community

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - This Your Town Friday, we're going to a community within a community! Indianapolis has Riley Hospital for Children downtown, a place children call home for days, weeks or much longer.

It was 100 years ago, a local doctor had an idea for a children's hospital named after Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley. It officially opened in 1924 on Riley's birthday.

Mark Noble, an 11-year-old from Decatur, had polio and was the first patient.

In 1971, Indiana's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit opened and there have been many firsts and breakthroughs since then.

Sometimes those breakthroughs come from a visit from man's best friend!

"Dogs have a feeling, they know that people are hurting," said Jo Curtiss, Pet Therapy Volunteer at Riley Hospital. "They know that kids are hurting. Whether it's emotionally, physically.,. dogs can take on that emotion from people. And she does. She just feels it."

And like magic, eyes light up and grins spread ear to ear, like on 11-year old-Eddy, the day we were there.

Murphy is an 8-year-old golden retriever.

Her human, Jo, has been a Riley nurse for 42 years. She's in the NICU overnights, then comes back during the day with Murphy.

"Oh, it brings happiness to my soul," said Jo. "It just makes me happy."

And you'd swear Murphy smiles, too!

"Sometimes she gets in bed, sometimes she sits on the ground beside them," said Jo. "Whatever the child wants or the parent wants Murphy to do. And it's proven that the child doesn't need pain medication as much when they have a dog visiting them. For that brief moment that they're visiting the dog, they forget they're in pain."

Kim Ziegler, the hospital's Pet Therapy Coordinator, agrees.

"A lot of times our families are missing their pets because they are at the hospital, so being able to provide that can really help with that comfort feeling," said Kim.

And as Kim and Jo both know, the caregivers of this community need lifted up as well.

"They like to pet Murphy," said Jo. "It helps them. You know, they have a stressful job and it can be sad at times. It just brings a lot of happiness to my soul to share her."

There are about 15 pet therapy teams that visit Riley Hospital for Children. Do you have a dog you think would be a good fit? Click here for more on the Pet Therapy Program.

Next week we are traveling to Atlanta in Hamilton County to meet a man knowm as Mr. Muffin's! We will also be at Lisa's Pie Shop Friday May 4th and would love for you to join us between 8:30 and 10 a.m.! It's at 5995 S US Highway 31 in Atlanta.

If you have a Your Town Friday idea, submit it here!

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