Charlie and his mom Laura Stout turn a lot of heads when they walk through Keck Hospital of USC for the best reason: Charlie is an adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. He’s one of 76 dog (and two cat!) volunteers who can bring comfort to Keck Hospital and USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center patients through a nonprofit organization called Love on 4 Paws.
Therapy animals from Love on 4 Paws visit hospitals and other health care facilities to provide a little bit of joy to patients and families. Love on 4 Paws was founded in 1997, and their animal volunteers have been visiting Keck Medicine since 2012.
The training to become a therapy animal is intensive. The animals are trained to be calm with crowds, new people and other animals, undistracted and unbothered by equipment like wheelchairs, crutches and carts. They need to be confident and accepting of all surroundings, and they have to love people more than anything else.
As for Charlie, mom and co-volunteer Laura says he loves his visits to Keck Medicine. He’s been known to fall asleep and snore on patients’ beds during visits, but no one seems to mind.