Bidwill therapy dog spreads love, Cards spirit to PCH patients

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Barney Bidwill is always up for hugs. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Barney Bidwill is always up for hugs. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Barney Biwill and mom Nicole have been part of the pet therapy program at PCH for nearly six years. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Barney Biwill and mom Nicole have been part of the pet therapy program at PCH for nearly six years. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Nicole Bidwill sayd both she and Barney love their visits to PCH. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Nicole Bidwill sayd both she and Barney love their visits to PCH. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Barney always politely waits for an invitation before jumping on the bed. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Barney always politely waits for an invitation before jumping on the bed. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Therapy dogs have been proven to reduce patient stress and promote healing, and Barney is very good at his job. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Therapy dogs have been proven to reduce patient stress and promote healing, and Barney is very good at his job. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Big Red may be the official team mascot of the Arizona Cardinals, but our fine feathered friend might want to watch out because he is getting a little competition from a furry friend -- a big dog named Barney.

He is certainly not a visitor patients at Phoenix Children’s Hospital expect to see.

“This is Barney,” Arizona Cardinals Vice President Nicole Bidwill introduces the great big St. Bernard as he ambles into the room.

[SLIDESHOW: Barney Bidwill on the job at Phoenix Children's Hospital]

“He is so big and cute," responds the smiling patient.

Bidwill hears that a lot when she takes her dog Barney for a visit to Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

“His paw is bigger than your hand, isn’t it?” she asked another patient as Barney jumped up on the bed,

“That amazing! That is insane,” he said, again with a big smile.

Bidwill says when she first got Barney, she had no idea she was about to embark on a new journey until she took him in for obedience training.

“And she said, 'You really should think about making him a therapy dog and doing the therapy dog thing because his personality is perfect for it and the kids would love him,'" she recalled the instructor telling her.

That was nearly six years ago, and Barney has been a regular visitor a Phoenix Children's Hospital ever since.

Bidwill says it is always a joy for the patients.

“You see the smile and the eyes open wide and the family. They bring their cameras out," she explained.

But they're not the only ones.

“[Barney] loves it," she said. "When he sees me put my apron on in the morning before we get in the car, he starts wagging his tail and barking at me and he runs to the door and  he cannot wait to come to this hospital.”

Therapy dogs have been proven to reduce patient stress and promote healing. Bidwill says it seems to be just what Barney was born to do.

[RELATED: Students looking to place service dogs with vets and first responders]

“So when he feels somebody is stressed, he comes right next to the person. And stands there to protect you,” she explains to patients.

Barney also shows up for some Cardinals swag for the patients, adding a little team spirit to the visits. 

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While it is plain to see what both the patients and Barney get from these visits, every visit is also like a winning touchdown for Bidwill, as well.

“It always such a great feeling walking out of here knowing I changed some days, I made some families forget about their problems, even if it is just for a few moments," she said. "And it is just a good feeling to be able to give happiness.”

[RELATED: Sky Harbor Airport to debut pilot pet therapy program]

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