Healthy You - Every Day

A ‘Tail’ of Two Beloved LVHN Volunteers

It’s hard to resist stopping to say hi when a tail (or two!) wags in your direction

Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) colleagues were all smiles on a Monday morning in Kasych Family Pavilion at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Cedar Crest. When the sea of people parted, it was easy to see why each person had paused briefly on their walk through the hall – to greet local celebrities Clancy and Tug.

“No matter how my day is going, when I see these dogs in the hall, I feel so much better,” says an LVHN colleague as she strokes Tug behind her ear.

Clancy, age 5, and Tug, age 3, are red fox Labrador retrievers who have been volunteering with their owners, John and Audrey Beers, for a little more than one year. Just like anyone who works in the hospital, the dogs have official ID badges with their names and photos. The name tags are important not just so everyone knows they are certified volunteer therapy dogs, but also because the two are nearly indistinguishable and never without each other.

“We are often told that we have made someone’s day.” - John Beers, LVHN volunteer

The foursome often stops by LVH–Cedar Crest and LVH–17th Street to spread cheer through smiles and tail wags. The Beers describe Clancy as more laid back and calm, while Tug is outgoing and eager to meet people. They both enjoy the experience and are smart, sociable and connected with each other during their shifts and when they’re off duty.

The dogs work hard to bring smiles to everyone they meet. As much as they love what they do, sometimes they need a break too and will sit and rest for a while between visits if they start to feel overwhelmed. It’s all worth it for the positive impact they have on the people they meet, though.

“The most rewarding part of this experience for both the dogs and us is the positive response from patients and colleagues alike,” John Beers says. “We are often told that we have made someone’s day.”

Creating furry moments

As the dogs pose for photographs, they are interrupted several times by passersby who want to say hello. One colleague asks for advice on how to prepare her own dog to become a therapy dog like Tug and Clancy. Another sheds a tear as she explains how much she treasures seeing the therapy dogs and yet another feels her stress melt away as she pets the furry friends.

Therapy dogs create special moments every time they walk through the doors of one of LVHN’s hospitals. The Beers shared favorite memories from the past year. One day, nurses laughed together when they noticed the ID badges that Tug and Clancy wear. On another day, a patient got out of bed to be closer to them. No matter the day, the therapy dogs are welcomed with open arms, and many people show photos of their own dogs to the volunteers. Together, they create moments over their shared love of dogs.

“We experience many smiles, laughter and sometimes tears,” Audrey Beers says.

The dogs make such a positive impact on people’s lives in just an hour at LVH–Cedar Crest. It’s difficult to imagine just how many lives they and the more than 40 other therapy dogs touch through the therapy dog program at LVHN.

Becoming a certified therapy dog

To be qualified, the dog’s handler must be an active volunteer with LVHN, and their dog must be a registered therapy dog with a nationally recognized therapy dog certification group. Two groups in the Lehigh Valley are Alliance of Therapy Dogs, Inc. and Therapy Dogs International, but there are many other options. These groups carry liability insurance on each dog, which LVHN requires for the safety and well-being of everyone.

The groups evaluate how the dogs interact with people in a public setting. Once the dog is certified, LVHN works with each dog and their handler to become comfortable visiting patients during regularly scheduled visits. The Beers, for example, are now able to visit most LVHN locations on their own with no advance notice required, but they also schedule visits.

“We have been involved with dogs and training for over 30 years and this is the most rewarding program we’ve been involved with,” John Beers says. “Tug and Clancy have grown and know what to do when they come to volunteer.”

Volunteering at LVHN

This Volunteer Week, LVHN is grateful to every volunteer who has made a difference through their dedication and willingness to go the extra mile for our community.

Are you interested in volunteering at LVHN? The intangible benefits are endless, and you’ll also receive meal vouchers, free parking and access to LVHN Fitness Centers. 

Volunteer Services

Become a Volunteer

Volunteers at Lehigh Valley Health Network are as diverse as the communities they serve and are needed now more than ever. We are accepting applications.

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