“Dude” the therapy dog ​​forms a special bond with cancer patients

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Dude is not your average dog.

He is a therapy dog ​​and he puts a smile on almost everyone he meets.

Dude and his owner Linda Norling have been coming to Methodist Hospital since October 2017. Due to the pandemic, Dude was unable to visit from April 2020. However, they resumed their visits in May this year, meeting cancer patients. in their room each week.

Dude is a very popular pup, even among hospital staff; but he was not always a healthy dog.

“He started by having Mega-E, where they regurgitate their food. Then shortly after, he stopped eating and he lost 10 pounds. in 15 days, and was eventually diagnosed with Addison’s disease. At the same time, he was diagnosed with hypothyroidism,” says Norling.

Since last summer, Dude can understand what these oncology patients are going through.

“We noticed this growth in his mouth and it turned out to be oral cancer. It went from the size of a kidney bean to about the size of a mini chili pepper. in about six weeks. It grew so quickly that people thought ‘oh, it’s just a cyst.’ Then when we had it removed, they sent it in for testing and found that It was cancer,” says Norling.

For cancer patients like Colleen Nieto, Dude brightens her day.

“It cheers you up, because you’re just sitting here… I’m going to cry, I’m not doing anything,” Nieto said.

Knowing that he also battled cancer helps remind patients that they are not alone.

“I think when they hear that they kind of sit like oh I’m not the only one. I think it helps them connect a little better, realizing that anyone can get cancer,” says Norling.

“It’s just crazy how pets and dogs know there’s something wrong with someone. I mean he came straight to me out of everyone that was here,” explains Nieto.

Even if his visit lasts only a few minutes, it can make a big difference in how the patient feels emotionally.

“It means a lot to me too to know that Dude can bring so much happiness even for such a short time,” says Norling.

Dude has since recovered from his cancer.

Linda plans for Dude to continue visiting patients for as long as he can.