Fur Angels Making Local Hospital Visits Happy

Gus the eight-year-old Labradoodle is making his rounds at Desert Regional Medical Center, his mission is to bring smiles and happiness to patients and their families.

Michael Martin and Gus started volunteering at the cancer center three years ago. Michael knew he wanted to do this when his father in law was having a hard time in the hospital after a stroke

“Wasn’t really responding well and a lady came in brought a little white dog and put it up in bed with him and he responded to it and I remember thinking when I retire that’s something that would be really rewarding and it has been,” says Martin.

Gus is one of eight therapy dogs who volunteer at Desert Regional Medical Center’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. The program was started ten years ago. It takes a special kind of dog to be in a hospital setting. They must pass a suitability test to ensure they’re friendly and comfortable around wheelchairs and medical equipment.

Dogs like Gus are more than just a pretty face.

“Research does show that it does make people feel better to have a pet around it lowers blood pressure and makes, you know brings that feeling of well being of happiness,” says Teresa Whipple, the executive director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center, adding this therapy is just as important as any other treatment. 

“You don’t usually see pets in a hospital environment and I think it makes it feel more comfortable more homie, but safer,” says Carol Harris, the manager at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, who also says the staff benefit from them too. 

Thanks to Martin, Gus always accomplishes his mission, because he’s that unexpected friend that comes by right when you need him.

“Helps in many ways, in many ways he’s not just a pet,” says Josie Pruette, through tears.


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