By Kathy Walsh
DENVER (CBS4)– It’s an unusual combination, patients, pets and prisoners, but the Stink Bug Project has been coming Together for Colorado for nearly a decade.
“Stink Bug” is a metaphor for chemotherapy. The nonprofit was started by a 9-year-old cancer patient.
It has given the gift of canine companionship to nearly a hundred children with serious medical conditions
“He’s family,” Rachael Fischer told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
“He” is a beautiful, black lab mix, a 103-pound gentle giant.
Mogul, aka Mogie, is a rescue dog. He rescued the Fischer family.
“Truly, this dog has been life changing,” said Fischer.
Especially for Jude. The 6-year-old was born with Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare genetic disorder.
“Talking or walking or running are quite a challenge for Jude,” explained Rachael, his mother.
SHARE YOUR STORY: Share A Together 4 Colorado Story Idea With CBS4
And the syndrome causes an insatiable appetite.
“The first thing on his mind was, I’m going to spell it, f-o-o-d,” Fischer said. “Jude, now, is very active. He walks the dog, sometimes in the house, sometimes with two leashes.”
Jude got Mogie from The Stink Bug Project, a nonprofit that pairs sick children with companion dogs. On this day, Jude met the founder of Stink Bug.
“What do you like best about Mogie, Jude?” asked Allison Winn.
“I like Mogie,” said Jude.
Allison was 9 years old and recovering from a brain tumor when she got Coco, a Bichon Frise trained by inmates in the K-9 Companion Prison Training Program at Colorado prisons.
“I just thought it would be fun to give dogs to other kids to make them feel better,” she said.
In 9 years, Stink Bug has matched nearly 100 kids and prisoner-trained canines.
“This is hard for me to believe,” said Allison.
She’s happy she’s helped so many. She made a new friend in Jude and met a Stink Bug family forever grateful for the big, black dog they call a blessing.
Allison is 18 years old and headed to college in the fall. The Stink Bug Project is now a program of Rocky Mountain Children’s Health Foundation which pays for the dog adoptions.
LINK: Stink Bug Project
Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 since 1984. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.