Doggy comfort helps patients at McLeod; two pets get volunteer recognition

January 18, 2019
McLeod volunteer services director Linda Boone (center) presented Anna Cusack and her dog, Dixie (left), and David Moore and his dog, Bug (right), with the Volunteer of the Year award Thursday afternoon.

FLORENCE, S.C. – More than 200 human volunteers were honored for their service Thursday afternoon during McLeod Regional Medical Center’s volunteer luncheon. But it was two therapy dogs, Dixie and Bug, who took home the Volunteer of the Year Award.

Linda Boone, director of volunteer services at McLeod, presented the award to the dogs and their owners during the luncheon at the Hellenic Center on South Cashua Drive. The annual Volunteer of the Year award is given to a volunteer for outstanding achievements while demonstrating superior excellence at McLeod.

“We were really torn about whether to give it to one or the other,” Boone said. “And you know what, they both deserve it.”

There are a total of six therapy pets who volunteer at McLeod, Boone said, but Dixie and Bug have been working at the hospital for a long time.

Next month will mark five years that Dixie, a goldendoodle, has been volunteering at McLeod, according to her owner, Anna Cusack.

“Pet therapy is just an opportunity for patients to have some time with the pets,” Cusack said. “It helps reduce their stress level. It promotes healing. For some of them, it’s the visitor that they have that day. But it’s basically just to provide some comfort, a little something different than maybe their family member stopping in.”

Cusack said Dixie takes everything in stride. She said she is sure Dixie was thrilled to be named one of McLeod’s volunteers of the year, but she may have been more concerned about the doggy toy she received at the luncheon.

“But it really means a lot to be recognized,” Cusack said. “We love what we do. We love the people that we see. We love being able to be part of our community. And we’re happy to give back to the working staff at McLeod as well.”

Cusack said Dixie loves the staff at McLeod and has them wrapped around her paw.

Bug, a toy poodle, has volunteered at McLeod for about a year and a half. His owner, David Moore, said they volunteer every Friday by visiting patients and the staff at the hospital.

“It’s awesome. I like to joke and say that I’m just his taxi driver,” Moore said. “I can literally drop him off at the front of McLeod and he would probably wave me away if I came back eight hours later. He loves people.”

For Bug to be named a volunteer of the year is a great honor, Moore said.

Certificates and pins were presented Thursday to the volunteers in attendance who worked more than 300 hours. All volunteers who with more than 50 hours of service were recognized.

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