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Former rescue dog lifts spirits of childhood cancer patients

About 90 canines strong, Akron Children’s Doggie Brigade has brought joy and comfort to sick kids since 1992. Here’s a story from one of our beloved Doggie Brigade volunteers.

My name is Barbara McKelvey and my partner is Sammy.  Sammy has been a member of Delta Society Partner Program and the Akron Children’s Hospital Doggie Brigade since January 2009.

Sammy is a rescue doggie.  He joined our family in May 2007 and comes to us from Small Paws Rescue.  Literally the moment we met I knew he was special.  He loves everything that exists.

Sammy is assigned to the oncology unit at the hospital because he loves to snuggle with the patients.  He is often found sleeping on the job.  The joy this little guy has given the patients, the staff, the families of children and me is beyond remarkable.

Many times I have left the hospital in tears because my heart is so overwhelmed with the love and happiness he gives to these children.  He is truly one you will never forget.

James, one of Sammy’s hospital buddies, is being home-schooled because of his cancer.  He wrote a story about Sammy for one of his school assignments.  In my opinion, the paper deserves an A+.  Here is James’ story:

“I was diagnosed last April with leukemia. The only part I liked about being in the hospital was the visits from the Doggie Brigade. Sammy was and is my favorite Doggie. At the end of June the doctors told me that I wasn’t responding the right way to the protocol treatment. I would have to get a bone marrow transplant. The hospital stay would be long. I was worried about missing my dog, Willow.

I was admitted at the end of September. The rules for bone marrow transplant patients are the number of visitors is limited and no doggie visits. Over a month without any contact from a dog made me sad. The BMT was a struggle. I was depressed and just wanted to go home. I missed my dog.

My wonderful BMT doctor and nurse thought I would perk up a little bit if they allowed a dog to visit. That dog was Sammy. I was so excited that he was allowed to visit with me, I cried after he left. He lifted my bad spirits. The nurses on the floor were surprised that the Dr allowed the visit but it did make me feel better and gave me hope that I will be going home. Sammy is a great dog and helped me feel better with my recovery.”

- James

We are sad to report James passed away on Sunday, July 29, 2012. You can read a story on James on his passing by the Akron Beacon Journal’s Jewel Cardwell: