A children's hospital in the Tennessee state of the US has launched a new "pet therapy" under which a golden retriever called Jake visits patients in intensive care to cheer them up.
The eight-year-old dog visited the Le Bonheur Children's hospital in Memphis, and paid a visit to six-year-old patient Alex Gosa, the Daily Mail reported.
The boy, who lost a toe in an accident recently, stroked the golden retriever as part of "doctor's orders".
The treatment, more commonly known as AAT - animal-assisted therapy - has been used to treat patients with mental and physical health problems since the late 18th century.
A 2010 study published in the US Early Childhood Education Journal showed that children in particular benefit from AAT.
Staff at the hospital said pet therapy has resulted in a better outcome for patients.
The programme has been going on for two weeks and it is the first time animals have been allowed in the intensive care unit.
Hospital spokesperson Sara Burnett said both patients and staff have benefitted.
"We all stop and pet them. Grandparents do. Physicians do. Family members and siblings. I think there is something disarming about seeing a dog in a hospital. It makes you stop your 'busyness' - to take a minute and pet a dog," she said.