SAN DIEGO — Dr. Matthew Schultzel, a general surgeon who specializes in robotic and colorectal surgery, has a four legged assistant in his medical office.
His name is Thor. He's a 4-year-old Great Dane therapy dog and he always makes sure to check in for his appointments on time.
"Are you checking in Thor?” said a woman at the front desk of the medical office.
"Ruff! Ruff!" Thor replies.
Dr. Schutzel’s wife, Sarah, trained him since he was a puppy to know how to greet cancer patients who have had a ruff journey.
"I think this is important to be done for patients, especially for cancer diagnosis," said Dr. Schultzel. "A lot of negativity is surrounding that sort of care and or just accepting what is going on with their body and if you can redirect the patient into positive attitude; there is something to be said with maintaining a positive attitude and doing well with your therapies,"
One of Dr. Schultzel’s patients is Cheryl Berger. She was diagnosed with rectal cancer.
"It's been a lot of up and down through trials and uncertainty at times, tears at times," said Berger.
Today, Berger is meeting Thor for the first time.
"He is huge! He's big and will make you smile. I don’t know anyone who couldn’t love a dog like him," smiles Berger.
He is even a star on the big screen. He plays Scooby Doo in Mystery Incorporated’s live action Scooby Doo TV series.
Dr. Schultzel says Thor not only provides healing for his patients, but for himself as well.
Berger is now in remission and says dogs like Thor make recovery a little easier.
"Dogs make you smile and make you feel good. Sometimes people will over take care of you and a dog will just be there and provide companionship. They just love you and dogs have unconditional love for people and it's great," said Berger.
Thor visits Dr. Schultzel’s medical offices in San Diego County and Riverside County and soon Sharp Memorial.
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