(WSVN) – Dude is not your average canine; he’s a therapy dog who brings a smile to almost anyone he meets.
Linda Norling is Dude’s owner and they have met with cancer patients once a week at a Methodist hospital in Omaha, Nebraska since 2017.
Even the staff at the hospital love this popular pup, but he has not always been a healthy dog.
“He started out having megaesophagus, they call it mega-e, where they regurgitate their food,” said Norling. “Then soon after that, he quit eating and he lost 10 pounds in 15 days and was finally diagnosed with Addison’s disease. At the same time, he was diagnosed with hypothyroid.”
Dude can relate to the patients he visits after he went through all his treatments.
“We noticed this growth in his mouth and it turned out to be oral cancer,” said Norling. “It grew from the size of a kidney bean to about the size of a mini pepper in about six weeks. And it grew so rapidly, people thought ‘oh it’s just a cyst.’ Then when we had it removed they sent it in for testing and found out it was cancer.”
Colleen Nieto, a cancer patient at the hospital, is someone Dude visits regularly.
“He brings your spirits up, because you’re just sitting here, I’m going to cry, just doing nothing,” said Nieto.
The fact that Dude has been through cancer himself reminds patients they are not alone.
“I think when they hear that kinda sit back like, ‘oh i’m not the only one,’” said Nieto “I think it just makes them connect a little bit better, realizing that everybody can get cancer.”
Nieto found it fascinating that animals have this sort of “sixth sense” when it comes to people’s health.
“It’s just crazy how pets and dogs, like they know that there’s something wrong with someone,” said Nieto. “I mean he came straight to me out of everyone that was in here.”
Dude will continue to visit patients for as long as he can.
Copyright 2022 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.