Therapy dog brings stress relief to William Carey med students

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - When students of the William Carey University Osteopathic School of Medicine are feeling the pressure from their demanding studies they often turn to a 14-year Welsh Corgy, Pomeranian mix named Suzie Simmons.

Dr. John McCann and his faithful companion Suzie have been fixtures at the school of medicine for the last four-years. McCann says he began volunteering at the school after it opened. He says Suzie wouldn't have any part of being left home alone so he decided to get her certified as a therapy dog so she could accompany him to the school. She has since become a regular and is well liked by the faculty and students.

"She gives out warm fuzzie's, free warm fuzzie's to all the students," said McCann. "Many students are missing their pets at home while they are away at school. It's a little bit of a relief to them to have something warm and fuzzy to rub on."

The demands on students in medical school can be extremely intense. Whether seeing her in the classroom while taking a test or just walking the hallways help takes some of the pressure off.

"She walks in there with just a light heartedness about her, a gentleness that really calms the students and just helps us be happier," said China Hyde, second year WCU student.

"Seeing her for a few seconds while I take that physiology exam and I'm able to reflect on happy times as a kid when I was playing with my own dog just kind of makes you happy," said Craig Moffett, first year WCU student.

As she gets up in years Suzie has developed some medical problems. In recent years she needed to have her spleen removed, she had to have her right eye removed, and cancer was found in her right kidney. Despite the problems, McCann says it hasn't slowed her down to much.

"She's 14 and she acts like she's three most of the time." She's a very well taken care of animal and we're just as close as anything."

McCann added he's more her therapy person than she is his therapy dog. He says she will continue to remain a fixture at the school as long as she can stay healthy.

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