MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Wherever Alexandra Ramos and her very large furry friend Apollo go, it is like a celebrity sighting. During a weekly visit to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, these certified pet therapists bring smiles and cheer to all they meet.
Everyone stops to pet Apollo and comment on his enormous size.
“He’s a Bernese mountain dog they are from Switzerland where they use them to rescue people from the snow,” explains Ramos.
Apollo, who started training for the job at just two months old, is one of about 20 dogs in this program.
He has a great deal of intuition when it comes to kids in the hospital.
“Dogs know for some reason, what’s your condition? What’s the patient’s condition? For example, if it’s an autistic kid he goes down, for them to pet him, he knows how to be like that,” says Ramos.
As they visit different patients in their rooms, it is clear Apollo can be a great motivator for a patient who really doesn’t feel like getting out of bed.
“Say you don’t have to do the therapy just play with Apollo or the dog I bring that day and I say let’s walk with Apollo forget about the therapy and they get up and they start walking with the dog and this is the therapy that they had to do.”
Some of the kids give him water from his bottle or get to give him a cookie. Apollo is one of three therapy dogs belonging to Ramos, who does this completely free.
Spokeswoman Jennifer Caminas says they are a huge benefit.
“She really goes beyond the call of duty, on any given day, you’ll see her not only doing rounds with her patients, also hosting events, brings the dogs to events, and dresses them up in the theme of the event,” says Caminas.
Apollo seems to love his job.
“They recognize this t-shirt, when I take this t-shirt out they know that one of the dogs is going with me so they look at me like ‘Okay, whose turn is it today?’” says Ramos. “I say ‘OK Apollo today it’s your turn!’ And he’s so excited!”
Just like any megastar, he is great with the “paw”-parazzi. Taking selfies and posing for the cameras.