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HUDSON -- City Council went to the dogs April 18 to recognize National Therapy Animal Day.
Mayor David Basil read a proclamation recognizing the therapeutic benefits animals play in improving health and well-being, especially to children, veterans, seniors and others facing medical or learning challenges.
Hudson High School sophomore Jack Lehman, 16, knows the value of therapy animals. Last year he spent 77 days in the hospital after suffering from Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis, a rare life-threatening autoimmune disease.
Jack and his parents, Jeff and Janie, as well as twin sister, Maggie, were present at Council.
Jack credited his recovery to therapy dogs who helped encourage him through the long hours of intense physical and occupational therapy.
Jack thanked everyone and said it was an honor to speak on behalf of therapy animals and the different types of people therapy dogs help on a daily basis.
"I was at Akron Children's Hospital for 77 days," Jack said. "I worked with them half of that time."
He said playing games with Gracie helped to make therapy enjoyable.
"Physical therapy is such a mundane trying experience, and I tried to do the work because they were there," Jack said.
Volunteer Christine Witschey brought her dogs, a black labrador named Francis and a Husky mix named Gracie, to Council. They are part of the Akron Children's Doggie Brigade and were part of Jack's therapy. In addition volunteer Amy Lyden and wife of Shawn Lyden, executive vice president of Akron Children's Hospital, brought a Newfoundland named Maya to Council.
By playing games with the dogs, patients exercise all parts of the body and have fun, Witschey said.
"Pet Partners has designated April 30 as National Therapy Animal Day to recognize exceptional therapy animals who partner with their human companions to bring comfort and healing to people in need," according to the proclamation.