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.

(credit: CBS)

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.

(credit: CBS)

“He” is a beautiful, black lab mix, a 103-pound gentle giant.

Mogul, aka Mogie, is a rescue dog. He rescued the Fischer family.

Rachael Fischer (credit: CBS)

“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.

(credit: CBS)

“Talking or walking or running are quite a challenge for Jude,” explained Rachael, his mother.

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And the syndrome causes an insatiable appetite.

(credit: CBS)

“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.

(credit: CBS)

“What do you like best about Mogie, Jude?” asked Allison Winn.

“I like Mogie,” said Jude.

(credit: Allison Winn)

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.

(credit: Allison Winn)

In 9 years, Stink Bug has matched nearly 100 kids and prisoner-trained canines.

“This is hard for me to believe,” said Allison.

CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh interviews Allison Winn (credit: CBS)

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.

(credit: CBS)

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.

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