There’s at least one special thing to look forward to every Monday at Akron Children’s Hospital and his name is Jajca. Monday is the day Doggie Brigade member Linda Lester volunteers to share Jajca with patients on our hematology-oncology unit.
“I love to do it and so does he,” said Lester. “I choose to visit the patients on the hematology/oncology unit as a way to remember and honor my father, who died from cancer 10 years ago.”
Lester named her dog Jajca, which is the Slavic word for egg, because that was what and how her father asked for breakfast every morning. Definitely a sunny-side-up kind of guy, Jajca has been working his magic on our patients for the past 7 years.
A majestic black standard poodle, he is perfect for his work with the Doggie Brigade. His “old soul” eyes seem to understand not only what you say, but what you feel.
He’s clearly a patient and steadfast companion to new and old friends alike. And his size is perfect for kids to squeeze in a cuddle and a hug.
Lester has seen firsthand the magic Jajca brings on his Monday visits and she enjoys making a difference in the quality of life of our cancer patients.
“More than one mom has told me over the years that the first time they saw their child smile in a week was when Jajca walked into the room,” said Lester. “It is rewarding to be part of that healing process and to help bring joy to kids who are going through a tough time.”
Jajca also volunteers with a local pediatric psychologist, who works with children who’ve had traumatic experiences.
“Kids really feel comfortable opening up and talking when he’s around,” Lester said. “Dogs are so non-judgmental and accepting.”
Jajca is one of more than 90 dogs in the Akron Children’s Hospital Doggie Brigade. The program is the second oldest pediatric pet visitation program in the country and is celebrating its 26th year.