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News / Northwest

Therapy dog Lily inducted into Oregon Animal Hall of Fame

Golden Labrador, 3, is a therapy dog in Roseburg, Ore., who loves her job

By Brittany Arnold, The News-Review
Published: March 29, 2024, 1:53pm
3 Photos
Lily, a therapy dog at CHI Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg, Ore., sits Thursday between her owner, Chuck Allured, left, and CHI Mercy Health director of volunteer services Teresa Scott.
Lily, a therapy dog at CHI Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg, Ore., sits Thursday between her owner, Chuck Allured, left, and CHI Mercy Health director of volunteer services Teresa Scott. (Photos by Will Geschke/ The News-Review) Photo Gallery

ROSEBURG, Ore. — Douglas County’s four-legged celebrity, Lily, has been recognized statewide. The 3-year-old golden Lab from Oakland, a CHI Mercy Health therapy dog, was inducted into the Oregon Animal Hall of Fame on March 2.

The honor was given by the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association and the Animal Health Foundation of Oregon. Each year, the veterinary organizations honor animals who, through courageous accomplishments, exemplify the affection, loyalty, security, public service and value of the human-animal bond.

Lily received the Professional award, which recognizes animals specifically trained for service or assistance.

“I find it really difficult to believe that she is more worthy of this than our police dogs and other service dogs, out of the entire state of Oregon,” said Lily’s owner, Chuck Allured. “It is kind of amazing that that is what happened.”

The dog’s veterinarian — Dr. Robin White, owner of Timbers Veterinary Services in Sutherlin — nominated Lily for the award.

“I was just flattered that Robin nominated her, and then I was flabbergasted when she got selected,” Allured said.

“The OVMA has the second-most longstanding award for animals. Even with a crazy busy life, I knew I needed to nominate her,” White said. “Lily definitely qualified for service.”

White has known Lily since she was a puppy and immediately recognized her sweet temperament. She suggested to Allured that Lily could make a great therapy dog.

Because of her endearing personality, White said, Lily would do really well in a social setting. Allured started exposing her to a variety of environments.

“I know from having animals in the past, they all want purpose. We were exploring what that purpose might be,” Allured said.

They explored search and rescue, the police department, schools, the fire department — but it was at Mercy Medical Center that he quickly became aware of Lily’s gift.

“She just instantly plugged into this,” Allured said. “She was outside of the hospital for around three months, getting exposed to ambulances, the people. She gravitated toward those who walked in with an injury, anyone walking into the hospital.”

Allured approached management at the hospital about starting a therapy dog program and allowing Lily to be a part of it.

Mercy Medical Center’s Therapy Dog Program launched in the spring of 2021. Lily has been able to brighten the days of countless patients, visitors and employees over the past two years.

CHI Mercy Health director of volunteer services Teresa Scott said that unlike Allured, she wasn’t surprised that Lily was selected for the award.

“It is the team. Everyone loves Chuck — he’s an ambassador of joy. Between the two of them, it is a very healing team,” Scott said.

Allured paid homage to Scott and CHI Mercy volunteer coordinator Marci Yoder, calling them the “drivers” of this program.

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“I had just started this role and started researching similar programs,” Scott said. “I see it as divine providence that Lily just showed up at this exact time. This beautiful dog just shows up.”

She said initiating the launch of the program took some convincing, but once everyone met Lily, there was no way to say “no.”

“I think it is important to represent that this is Mercy’s program and that they are really the ones that have facilitated this,” Allured said. “Without Mercy, Lily wouldn’t be a therapy dog.”

Allured said Lily now goes by “chief therapy dog,” leading the program’s pack of four other therapy dogs: Gillian, Dory, Masie and Toby.

“She needs an ego check,” he said with a laugh.

At the surgery center on kids’ day, Allured tells children that her full name is Dr. Lily Jellystone — not “Doctor,” but “Dog-tor.” The joke always brings cheer to potentially anxious children.

Lily and Allured spend about 30 hours each week doing visits, mostly at Mercy Medical Center and occasionally at places like Umpqua Community College, senior living centers or Camp Millennium. Lily has even spent time visiting firefighters at camp during local fires.

Allured said he, Scott and Yoder have found that Lily does more than helping patients.

“I would say a lot of the time, it’s the staff that benefits so much,” Scott said, “and with what they’ve been through the last several years, they need it.”

Lily enjoys cheering up the hospital staff but also has been known to recognize nervous family or friends in the waiting room and will sit with them.

“Our job is to wander around. Isn’t that amazing?” Allured said.

But it is still a job.

“While cuddling with strangers all day might seem like playtime for some dogs, it is hard and demanding work,” White said. “Yet this 3-year-old bundle of joy persists, consistently stepping up to greet and comfort everyone for hours on end.”

Allured said Lily enjoys anything that has to do with balls and water. She’s very high energy, has made friends with the deer on their property and occasionally gets in trouble for digging holes in the flower bed, he added.

Once she puts her vest on, however, she knows it’s time to work.

“These aren’t just ordinary dogs,” Allured said.

White, who helped to launch the therapy program, calls herself a firm believer of the benefits and value of therapy dogs.

“I would really love to see some other people out there in the community stepping in,” she said. “We’re looking for more volunteers and trying to find people that are passionate about it.”