CLERMONT, Fla. — Since 2019, a Clermont woman has been putting smiles on faces of those recovering in hospitals, hospice care and nursing homes.

What You Need To Know

  • Koda the Fluff visits hospitals, nursing homes and schools, bringing smiles to everyone that meets the Pomeranian

  • The dog usually begins visits riding in a toy convertible and wearing sunglasses

  • Koda has millions of followers on social media around the world

  • One woman’s dying wish in Tennessee was to meet Koda in-person

Jena McKinstry is the proud owner of a 9-year-old Pomeranian who seems to bring joy to whoever encounters the dog.

“High five, good girl,” said McKinstry as she snaps a picture for someone as she travels through the Orlando Health Hospital in Clermont, where she is stopped by nearly everyone who wants a picture with the animal.

Koda the Fluff usually rides in a remote-controlled toy convertible when making appearances, wearing sunglasses and sitting calmly as she roams the hallways.

Nurse Jessica Stauffer-Pingol stops to pet Koda.

“When they’re in the hospital, hospice, and any of these facilities, they don’t have their animals around them. So having an animal around them and spend some time with them, brings a lot of joy,” said Stauffer-Pingol.

Koda is also a social media star, racking up millions of views from people who follow the 9-year-old dog from around the world.

Inside McKinstry’s home is a $6,000 bed in the shape of a race car that serves as Koda’s photo room, where many of the dog’s successful social media videos are shot.

“These are places that people have contacted us from saying they watch Koda’s videos, and it makes their day and makes them happy,” said McKinstry, pointing to a map on the wall with push-pins marking locations from around the world.

Koda’s reach has been powerful worldwide and shared online. 

One of Koda's most significant visits began when Clermont Police received a message directed at Koda from a woman in Tennessee.

“I have stage four lung and liver cancer. I would give almost anything to have a dog like that,” the woman, named Linda, said.

Police detected it might be a call for help, and so Corporal Philip Pollen, who is in charge of the mobile crisis center with Clermont Police, stepped in.

“An individual who was in crisis because of certain medical and mental health issues going on,” said Pollen.

Pollen, who’s worked with McKinstry and Koda in the community before, wanted to assist the woman in Tennessee, whose dying wish was really to meet the small dog in person.

McKinstry’s nonprofit, Smiles Fur Miles, raised donations to make Linda’s wish come true and flew to Tennessee, with Pollen and others by her side, so Linda could meet with Koda for a day.

“It’s very fulfilling doing pet therapy. Coming in to see people and seeing their reactions and knowing how happy they are, knowing everyone is dealing with something awful. That little minute with Koda can change their whole day. That’s pretty powerful,” said McKinstry.

Clermont Police said it is important for anyone to remember to call 211 and not 911 when it comes to help with things like emergency counseling and family support services.

Linda’s other wish was to have her own dog brought to her, which the team from Smile Fur Miles delivered to her on the same day.

Linda passed away in October 2023, 2 months after Koda’s visit.

That dog is now living with friends in Tennessee.

McKinstry believes she has visited thousands since 2019 with Koda, and hopes to put smiles on faces to more people in the years to come.