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Health: A Special Bond Between Dog & Pediatric Patients

By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - A "Best Friend Bash" is happening Wednesday night in University City. It's the beginning of a new program for dogs and kids who are patients.

You'd never know these two beauties had facial disfigurements that required serious surgeries.

"I think having dogs that have similar disabilities and have to go through similar surgeries also kind of makes your deformity seem a little less scary," said Corinne Merlino, who was born with a cleft palate and other facial problems. Her most recent surgery re-aligned the 15-year-olds jaw. There are no external scars. The work was done all internally.

Georgia had cancer in her jaw, and eight hours of surgery and reconstruction at Penn Vet. Now that hospital is sharing animals like Gerogia with patients like Corinne treated at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"I think that they will definitely be able to make each other happy," said Lynn Rae Fenimore, Georgia's owner.

Diana Sweeney from CHOP is helping coordinate the get-togethers. She hopes they will help children with disfigurements learn to feel better about themselves.

"They realize that they look a lot different than everybody else, which is a very difficult time. I think the animals will ease them through that," said Diana.

It's a unique kind of bond two legged and four legged patients can have.

"We thought how great would it be to be able to bring animals and people together that are having to deal with the same type of cranial facial issues to kind of inspire each other and learn from each other," said John Lewis, a Penn Vet Veterinarian.

"Even though they can't vocalize what they're going through, I think you can kind of just tell that they were upset for a little bit and in pain, but now they're fine," said Corinne.

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Penn Vet are launching a new program where there will be a series of events for dogs and patients with facial disfigurements to get together. The first one is called the "Best Friend Bash."

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