Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s 2nd Annual Halloween Parade scared up plenty of smiles and fun for all

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Volunteers came with their canine friends dressed up as a bride, a groom, a security guard and an assortment of other characters at Sharp Grossmont Hospital last Thursday. The 2nd annual Halloween Parade of therapy dogs with their owners scared up lots of smiles for everyone.

The volunteers all gathered with their dogs from Love on a Leash or Therapy Dogs International in the lobby before setting out on the parade.

Volunteers came with their canine friends dressed up as a bride, a groom, a security guard and an assortment of other characters at Sharp Grossmont Hospital last Thursday. The 2nd annual Halloween Parade of therapy dogs with their owners scared up lots of smiles for everyone.

The volunteers all gathered with their dogs from Love on a Leash or Therapy Dogs International in the lobby before setting out on the parade.

Liz Rajknecht’s golden retriever named Milagra elicited some of the biggest smiles. Milagra was all dressed up in a bridal veil. It was her second year with Rajknecht participating in the Halloween Parade.

“Milagra doesn’t mind it. She just kind of looked up at me as if to say, ‘Really, this again?’” Rajknecht said.

After 10 minutes in the lobby with people and dogs exchanging hand and paw shakes, the parade pushed off for their mission of love.

Milagra and a border collie named Charlie befriended each other. Charlie, an International Therapy Dog owned by Rhonda Lillie, had on an outfit with the words “Security Candy” on the back.

“You make a good best man, Charlie,” Rajknecht said as she and Milagra walked alongside Charlie and his owner Marilyn Fuller.

Marilyn Fuller with Brutus, her lab retriever dressed as a groom, stayed in step for a while with Milagra, the golden retriever bride, drew a lot of stares and smiles. Justin Christensen and Michael Columbo got in on the action too, with Shiloh, a beagle dressed up as a bumblebee.

They all made their way toward the David and Donna Long Center for Cancer Treatment. Almost as soon as the parade made its way through the doors of the center, they were greeted by hugs and smiles. Nurses and staff cooed over and cuddled the dogs. Patients broke out into big grins when they saw Milagra and Charlie.

Ethel, a sweet-tempered terrier poodle, nosed her way among the patients who smoothed her fur and petted her head.

“This is always better than medicine or humans,” said Claudia Sanders, guiding her Ethel along through the center.

When Milagra and Charlie came up to Mary Bell, a patient receiving treatment at the center, they both stopped. They sat staring up at her, seemingly with a smile. 

Bell laughed and snapped a picture with her camera. “They put sunshine on a dreary day for me,” Bell said.

When the parade had wound its way through the center, the dogs and their people stopped in the hallway for a bit to admire each other’s costumes again.

“The rewards of doing this are always fantastic,” Christensen said, as Shiloh plunked down onto the floor to rest.

Linda VanFulpen, manager of volunteer services, thanked them all for another successful parade.

“This parade makes a huge difference in people’s lives. It’s doggie love. It helps make people forget about their pain or discomfort they’re having,” VanFulpen said.

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