Therapy dog visits cancer patients at Cone Health

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Thousands of women are battling breast cancer right now. They may face different challenges and they all need support. Friends and family often give them the strength to keep fighting but sometimes a positive vibe can come from a different direction. At the Cone Health Cancer Center in Greensboro it comes from a Golden Doodle named Sammie.

Her full name is Samantha Beardsley Magrinat and like any good dog Sammie likes to play. But at the hospital Sammie isn’t just a pet, she has a job.

"In the morning when we’re gonna come to the hospital, when I pull out the (pink) bandana, she knows that she’s gonna go to work," says Sammie's owner Mary Magrinat.

Sammie is a therapy dog. She even has her own business card.

"To have a dog in a hospital, yeah, it’s really sweet. It’s amazing. It just feels good just to hold her," says Catherine Dunham. "I have breast cancer so I’m here for chemotherapy, here to see my doctor so it’s a long day. This is good. This is very good. She’s sweet."

She visits with patients one day every week, bringing a smile to everyone she greets.

"It’s an anxious time to come to the cancer center. It’s a beautiful place inside but it’s still a difficult time to come to the cancer center," says Magrinat, as she knows that difficulty first hand as breast cancer survivor.

"I think it just really relaxes people and gives them a little distraction, it brightens their day, brings a smile to their face."

"This really adds something. I have a dog at home. You miss your dog when you’re away all day so it’s nice," adds Dunham

The smiles Sammi brings aren't just limited to the patients, exhibited by the outstretched hands of the staff as Sammie rolls on her back exposing a belly ready for a rub.

"Sammie’s a true friend around here," says one nurse.

In "dog hours" a full day's work for Sammie is just a couple of hours.

"After we’ve been here and hour or two she is tired, she actually jumps in the car and goes to sleep."

Mary and Sammie's training for therapy work is through North Carolina Pet Partners.