SEYMOUR, Ind. — He's a visitor you wouldn't expect to see during your chemotherapy treatments, but he's making a big impact on patients at a Southern Indiana cancer center.
"He definitely breaks the mold," Chelsie Bentz, the clinical oncology pharmacist at Schneck Cancer Center in Seymour, Indiana said. She started with the center in April of 2018.
A few days a week, Bentz comes to work accompanied by one of her six bulldogs, Tucker.
"He has the run of the mill for sure," Bentz said.
Tucker is a registered therapy dog making his rounds at the cancer center. He roams freely from patient to patient and has clocked more than 100 visits.
"It amazes you how many people are more interested in whether Tucker is here rather than the person who orders your medication," Bentz said.
He may see anywhere from 5 to 15 patients a day. His very first patient was receiving chemo for breast cancer.
"When you handed this little baby bulldog to her, her tears started streaming and she took that puppy all the way to her infusion chair and held him the entire time she had that first treatment."
Bentz says Tucker stayed with her from that moment on during every treatment. He forms a bond with many at the center.
"This morning, he got up and you could just tell he was like, 'I'm going to work with you'. He'll strut in the bathroom and be like, 'Are you ready yet?'" Bentz said.
"He's pretty spoiled, aren't you? He owns the joint," Sharon Schneider, a breast cancer patient laughed.
He's a companion to keep you smiling during the rough patches.
"This lady, she wasn't doing well. She was coming in for treatment right before Christmas and looked at me and said, 'Because he's here today, I know it's going to be okay.' And I thought, 'wow.' It's phenomenal, the impact these therapy dogs have," Bentz said.
Tucker can relate to many of these patients. He was born with a cleft palate, fed by syringe for the first five months of his life and later, nearly died from a gastrointestinal obstruction. Those who hear his story can't help but feel uplifted and hopeful for their own recovery.