WASHINGTON DC (CNN) - April is National Volunteer Month, and this week, organizations across the country are offering Americans a chance to give back. Today, we're introducing you to a man and his best friend.
You won't find many volunteers like the dynamic duo of Burton Goldstein and his eleven-pound partner Bear.
This little guy makes up for his height with his heart.
Bear is therapy dog and wherever Goldstein goes, Bear follows.
The 3-year-old Shih Tzu is trained to provide a priceless prescription of unwavering affection.
On this day, Bear's volunteer works takes him down the halls of Sibley Hospital in Washington D.C. and onto the bed of Robert Harrison.
Harrison, an Air Force vet, instantly smiles at the sight of Bear. Whatever pain or sickness he might have felt before seemed to be forgotten, if only for an instant.
In some cases, Bear acts as a motivator to get people walking again.
"He just knows what his place in life and that's what he does," says Goldstein.
The job of a therapy dog often takes them beyond the hospital walls and into the field. They have to be in the middle of crisis situations, naturual disasters; these dogs have seen it all.
"We got the call immediately after the incident at the Navy Yard."
Bear and Goldstein have seen their share of heartache. The cost of helping can add up though. Factor in paperwork and certification for Bear and four other therapy dogs.
"It's not cheap to be a volunteer today," says Goldstein.
Goldstein and his group rely on donations to stay on their course. It's not easy, but on Bear's vest is pinned a remind of why they do this. It's a single starfish, representing a moral story.
"Suppose somebody's walking along the beach and they saw someone throwing starfish back, one-by-one to the water. When the person walked over and said what are you doing, the person said well I'm helping the starfish. But there's millions of them. How can you help all the starfish? He picked up one and threw back in and he said I helped that one."
Proving why Bear is truly man's best friend; one patient at a time.