Therapy Dogs help patients at Mayo Clinic

Jaclyn Harold
Created: December 06, 2019 11:45 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Holidays spent away from family can be difficult, especially if you're in the hospital.

"We see some, very ill people," said Charlie Waite, a volunteer with the Caring Canines Unit at Mayo Clinic.


For those non-traditional holidays that are spent hooked to machines instead of surrounded by the ones you love, Mayo Clinic offers a little comfort, with a visit from a lab named Lily.

Lily and Charlie go room to room on different floors, as requested by a patient's nurse. Though she makes friends everywhere she goes, one patient in particular has grown familiar with the lab.

As of December 6th, Elizabeth Sammons has been at Mayo Clinic for 162 days. In that time, she's made many friends.

"I need a heart and a kidney, and so the two together are hard to find," said Sammons.

Even though her health status isn't great, Sammons finds joy in the little things, like the small amount of time she gets to spend with Lily.

"We don't spend a huge amount of time together but basically we bond over having Lily in the room. We don't have to have a lot in common other than, Lily is here to visit," said Waite.

The duo makes room visits for post surgery patients, to someone still waiting for good news like Sammons, and even hospital staff get to spend time with the 2-year-old English lab.

"I'm just happy for a few minutes, and it makes me miss my dogs a little less for a few minutes," said Sammons.

Charlie and Lily also visit hospice patients, ICUs, transplant floors, and family members in the waiting room.

"Just everybody is wonderful to her. That's why she's perfect for this job," said Waite.

Though the Caring Canines can make visits any day, Waite says it's definitely a little more magical during the holidays, but nonetheless, every visit regardless of the day, is important.

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