MARYLAND

Military expands pet therapy unit

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BETHESDA, Md. (AP) - The U.S. military is expanding a unit that can't help being warm and fuzzy.

It's the pet therapy squad - four dogs that serve patients at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

Officials say a 5-year-old retriever named Naoma recently joined the program's three other dogs, and they're getting along fine.

All the animals were trained as companion guides for wounded service members. But they couldn't meet the strict physical requirements of the guide-dog program, so they became therapy pets.

Officials say the dogs are smart, gentle and obedient. They say the animals bring comfort to patients, visitors and staff at the hospitals.

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