Skip to Main Content

Volunteer Month: Four-Legged Friends

By CHI Health Cancer Team April 11, 2013 Posted in: Cancer Care

April is Volunteer Month. All month, our wonderful cancer volunteers will share why they give of themselves, in their own words. 

Roxy and Tammy barely make it through the front door of CHI Health Lakeside Hospital before people rush up to them.

The eight-year-old short-haired dachshund and 12-year-old English lab are registered therapy dogs and work as a team, along with owners Pam Egger and Donny Paisley. The four come to Lakeside to visit cancer patients and to help them put aside their battles for a while and laugh a little.

"It's the best job I ever had," smiles volunteer Egger. She figures Roxy interacts with about a hundred patients a year at Lakeside. "Just to see everybody smile and how excited they get makes it worth it. They tell me, ‘I got my fix.' It makes me so happy." Roxy—who has brightly painted toenails and always dresses up in costume—is the third therapy dog Egger has had since 2007. She works side-by-side with the much-larger Tammy. "They love each other," Paisley says.

Tammy was originally trained to be a guide dog for the blind but when vets found elbow dysplasia, a developmental abnormality of her elbow joint, she was sidelined. She was so calm and so well-trained that Paisley says she was a natural to become a therapy dog. Cancer patients love the laid back black-furred canine and spend a lot of time just petting Tammy. Paisley says she provides an important distraction. "They don't talk about their health. They talk about their pets and that makes them happy. I love the joy it brings to people."

Because she moves slowly from age, Tammy might be retiring and not be making the rounds at Lakeside much longer. But both Paisley and Egger say they will continue to bring their therapy dogs to brighten patients' days. "I intend to do this as long as I have a dog," Egger says.

CHI Health Cancer Team
CHI Health Cancer Team

These blogs were written by members of the CHI Health Cancer Care Team.

Related Articles

Helpful Tips for Successful Recovery From Prostate Surgery

JUL 17, 2024

Patients benefit from being prepared in advance of prostate surgery so that bowel, bladder, and erectile functions return to normal as quickly as possible.

Read More

Cancer and Good Mental Health

MAY 10, 2024

Mental health conditions can be exacerbated by the psychological stress of a cancer diagnosis, physical symptoms, and fear of cancer progression or recurrence. Our therapist offers tips for maintaining good mental health.

Read More

All About Bile Duct Cancers

FEB 27, 2024

Bile duct cancers are a very diverse group of gastrointestinal cancers that originate from the bile duct system that is contained both within and outside the liver.

Read More