Doggie doctors 'Making a Difference' at Moffitt

TAMPA, Florida -- When your world is filled with beeps and tubes, it sure is nice to pause for some paws.

Every week, Blake, Huey, and their gal pal Chicklet visit patients at Moffitt Cancer Center. And it's clear these doggie doctors dispense a unique kind of medicine: puppy love.

"I just love 'em", said Moffitt patient Russ Marraccini about the dogs in his room. Marracciniwas missing his own dog back at home in Melbourne, so he thought the visit and fiesta of fur was just fantastic.

"This made my day. Two weeks without my little guy, and now I got two, three of them. They make your day," said Marraccini with a broad grin on his face.

And patients aren't the only onesto getpumped up by the pups; staff members do, too. "He's so cute," squealed a nurse.

While the dogs are the stars of the show, don't forget their owners. Ruthie Cowan and Pam Dickens have been bringing dogs to Moffitt once a week for more than 20 years.

"I've kind of selfishly stuck with it, because it's just a fun way to spend your day," said Dickens.

Cowan agreed the work brings them joy right along with the patients. "Most of the time they're welcoming a dog in their life that day and they forget about the hospital for a few moments," said Cowan.

Cowan and Dickens make a great team for these hospital visits, because one likes big dogs and the other likes small ones, so patients get a choice.

At the end of their day, the poochesare pooped, but next week they'll be back, heads up and tails wagging.

If you know someone who's making a difference in your community, email the information to


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