NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -- A Cancer diagnosis is a life-changing moment that is likely to be the beginning of a long struggle. But little things can help make for memorable and good moments, like the Pet Therapy Program at Vanderbilt.

Imagine being in the clinic, hooked up to machines, and visited non-stop by doctors and nurses. Then a dog walks into the room to say Hi!

It happens every day and one patients says for sure it helps.

Vanderbilt Cancer Center Volunteer Jim Gray knows what he's doing here works.

That's his dog Dexter, a Labradoodle, and trained therapy dog visiting patients in the thick of their battle with cancer.

"Wanna say hi to Dexter?"

It's not medicine, not chemotherapy, just pet therapy.

Jim says it is..."just a relaxing break in the day when they're pumping stuff into ya."

Jim knows that feeling, he's a cancer survivor and remembers these visits here.

"You're here 6 hours or more and it's nice when the therapy dog came in it was the highlight of my day when I was here."

Now fully recovered, he wanted to give back.

" I decided I could do that."

So he went looking for a dog, got Dexter, then the ok from Vandy, and the patients said sure come on into the room. They loved it and in an instant it turned those rooms from solemn and sad to energetic and fun. A brief but necessary step away from reality.

I talked to one Vanderbilt nurse who has seen these interactions happen.

"Programs like this are wonderful! For a split second you get a big furry dog, slobbering on ya -- he just wants a treat, and it takes your mind off that (chemo treatment) for a second -- what a wonderful thing we can do."

To learn more about what it takes to become part of a pet therapy team, visit their website at VolunteeratVanderbilt.com.

 

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Terry Bulger has been bringing you stories of the people and places that make Tennessee unique and interesting on News4 since 1990. Contact Terry if you have an interesting community story for him to cover.

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