Saying goodbye to Harli, Mary Bridge's healing dog

"She had a wonderful life. She gave her life doing this work."

KING 5's Jenna Hanchard reports.

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Sometimes the smallest among us can have the biggest impact. That was the case with one volunteer at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma named Harli, who recently lost her own battle with cancer.

As a therapy dog, patients and staff say Harli made an impact for nearly 10 years.

“I met Harli so many times in the hospital,” said 16-year-old Hanna Safley.

When Safley was 13 years old, she spent about two and a half years at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital with Leukemia.

“I’d sometimes not walk out of my bed for weeks and she’d come and I would actually sit up and lean over to pet her. She was always so sweet to me,” Safley said.

“It changed Hanna,” her mother Kelly Safley said. “To see Hanna smile, to Hanna talk, these are little things you take for granted. Those things don’t happen when they’re sick."

Diana Doolittle, Harli's longtime partner, trained the pup to be a therapy dog.

>>Related | Photos: Saying goodbye to Harli

“I was hoping to have a dog that had a good temperament, and she won us over right on day one,” she said.

But a couple of months ago Harli neared her sunset as her cancer became more aggressive.

"We came home from church on a Saturday night, and she couldn’t get up. And she had a look on her face like "it’s time mom,'" Doolittle said.

She wrote about the last 24 hours with Harli on her blog.

“We went and got her a Wendy’s hamburger, went and got her a Pupacinco at Starbucks,” she said. “I can’t believe in a few hours I won’t be able to touch you anymore.”

Doolittle wrote in her blog about the last moments of Harli's life.

"As soon as the tech finished, Harli reached her nose forward and gave her a big slurpy kiss on the face. This scene was such a great summary of her life's work and purpose. She was grace and dignity to the end."

Nearly 10 years with roughly 7,300 patients and staff.

“She had a wonderful life. She gave her life doing this work,” Doolittle said.

“Harli made a huge impact…there’s not many dogs like Harli. She is was one of a kind,” Safley said.


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