Miniature horse brings big smiles to young cancer patients

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

It's not every day that a miniature horse strolls into a doctor's office. 

But a mini named Merlin moseyed into Dr. Rosen's pediatric oncology office hoping to bring comfort to children desperately looking for something to smile about. 

Children like Kate Kirkwood, a 7-year-old battling cancer. Kate's mom, Rebecca, says her daughter has osteosarcoma, and is about halfway through treatment.

A meeting with Merlin turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.

"I like to brush hair, and I've been practicing on braiding," Katie says.

Little Blessings is the name of the therapy organization that arranges Merlin's visits. The group's founder, Kathryn Rodriguez, says putting smiles on the faces of children like Katie is what she lives for.

"Once you see the joy that it brings to someone, it's infectious and it makes you want to go do it more," she says.

Little Blessings, which started in 2015, just recently became a non-profit. Merlin is one of three miniature horses it will take to nursing homes, hospitals, and clinics. Pretty much anywhere that anyone needs a lift.

Rodrigues says, "I've had patients tell me, 'I've had a terrible day, but now my day is good because I saw the horse.' That just touches your heart."

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