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Health News 2 Use: Therapy dogs keep spirits high for cancer patients

Posted at 7:31 PM, Jul 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-16 20:31:42-04

TULSA — Fighting cancer takes every weapon doctors can bring to such a tough battle, but they're also finding joy, in the form of a four-legged friend -- yet another way to help patients.

Linda Stavlo, a Cancer Treatment Centers of America patient in Tulsa, has a special friend, Charlie, a four-year-old pet therapy dog.

Every two weeks, there's a parade of them at CTCA in Tulsa. From large dogs, to small ones, too.

"We do everything we can to make life normal for our patients, to return them to the best quality of life as they go through their cancer journal, and so pet therapy is one way to do that," said Jay Foley, CEO for CTCA in Tulsa.

The dog owners train their pups to be friendly to everyone they encounter, in anywhere from court rooms to hospitals.

"We talked about the dog. We didn't talk about her being sick," said Shirleyanne Brown Johnson with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. "We don't talk about the stuff they have to deal with every day. We try to bring fresh air in more ways than just appearance."

"They lift our spirits and they love us regardless of what we look like -- bald head and all," said Stavlo.

Linda will tell you, these wagging tails teach an important life lesson.

"That life is good. Life is good. People are kind. Everybody has a soft spot and you can love unconditionally," Stavlo said.

The dogs are required to pass rigorous training and testing to ensure they have the temperament for their work as a comfort animal.

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