While the only game Roxie tracks in the hospital is of the Chutes & Ladders and Candy Land variety, this basset hound is a winner with our patients.
Roxie is the lone basset hound in the Doggie Brigade.
“I’ve got 4 of them at home and I think I know why she’s the only one,” quipped Roxie’s handler Karen Koslowski. “They are primarily hunting dogs and they’ve got a stubborn streak in them.”
For a dog with such little stubby legs, Roxie makes a big impact. Her enormous ears are especially cute, occasionally taking a dip in her water bowl when she takes a sip.
Koslowski used to be a teacher and was originally motivated to put Roxie through the Delta Society’s Pet Partners test to see if she could participate in reading programs at local libraries and schools.
“While we were at the test, some of the other participants were testing for admission to the Doggie Brigade,” said Koslowski. “After they saw how Roxie breezed through it, they encouraged me to join so I began looking into it.”
Roxie also spreads her basset moxie at Perry Schools in Massillon and the Wadsworth and Barberton libraries, where she listens patiently as kids read. She even helps college students at Kent State University destress during exam week.
When Roxie lumbered into the cancer inpatient unit, her canine charm was irresistible to Annika Shankle, an 18 month old battling high-risk neuroblastoma.
“It calms her down so much,” said her grandmother Kim Tekep. “She gets so happy when she sees the dogs. We have a boxer named Simba at home who is her special pal.”
Annika stores all the Doggie Brigade trading cards she receives in her small, purple purse. She reveled in showing Roxie all 50 of the canine visitors. Roxie seemed very interested in the purse and its contents, sniffing it at the appropriate times.
“It is just so neat to share your dog with others,” said Koslowski. “When your dog has such a great personality like Roxie does, it can be a very rewarding volunteer experience.”
Tekep said her granddaughter is gearing up for a lengthy hospital stay. Annika will be undergoing a stem cell transplant so Tekep is glad there will be plenty of canine encounters to look forward to during that difficult time for her family.
“This is the best program you guys can have,” said Tekep. “We love these 4-legged visitors.”