WYANDOTTE, Mich. - It's a sight you don't often see at a doctor's office -- a small white dog racing down the hallways, tail wagging all the way, eagerly searching for someone to play with.
His name is Chester, and in one short year, he's gone from homeless to healthcare.
It all began when a Dearborn police officer found Chester as a stray and took him to the Dearborn Animal Shelter. He caught the eye of Dr. Robert Sharon.
"He was very sick, at the time. He had the mange and had to undergo a couple months of treatment, in which he was in isolation," said Sharon.
Sharon and his wife, who is also a doctor, adopted Chester as a family pet. They soon discovered their new pooch had a knack for patient care.
"Once we adopted Chester, I brought him to the office, because I didn't want to leave him alone. He was only a little pup," said Sharon.
Chester was supposed to stay in Sharon's office at the Oakwood Healthcare Center in Wyandotte, but he snuck out.
"He ran into one of the patient's room, jumped upon their lap, and sat there and was petted," said Sharon.
The patient's delighted reaction sparked an idea. Sharon began allowing Chester to shadow him while he checked on patients.
"He sits with the patients before I come in," said Sharon. "For most patients, coming to the doctor's office can be quite nerve-racking. And Chester basically relieves their anxiety."
After a few months, staff noticed an interesting trend. Patients actually starting scheduling their appointments when Chester would be there.
Virginia Jazdzewski of Trenton is one of Chester's fans.
"I was down the hall here, getting weighed, and the dog came running down the hallway, and he jumped up on my legs. And I thought, 'Wow, this is great,'" said Jazdzewski.
Jazdzewski is a cancer survivor. She said having Chester around makes coming to the doctor a little easier.
"One day, I'm coming in and I was kind of apprehensive for an appointment, and here comes Chester, running down the hall again and just to greet me," said Jazdzewski.
Chester isn't just an office pet. He's now completed training to become a certified therapy dog. He has his own official Oakwood badge and a Facebook page.
Chester keeps regular office hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Oakwood Healthcare Center Wyandotte. Sharon said they are careful to keep Chester away from any patients who might not enjoy his company or who are allergic, but the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, he's been such a hit, they hope to someday see other therapy dogs in Oakwood offices.
"You see a lot of therapy dogs, both in hospitals and nursing homes, but none really in the ambulatory setting, in an office setting such as this," said Sharon. "What's been truly amazing is the healing effect that Chester has had on our patients."
"I think the more relaxing that the doctor and the nurses can make it for the patient, it's all the better, so much better. I just love him."
To visit Chester's Facebook page, click here.
For more information on the Dearborn Animal Shelter, click here.
To visit Oakwood Healthcare's website, click here.
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