Lily inducted into Oregon Animal Hall of Fame

by | Mar 18, 2024 | 0 comments

Douglas County’s four-legged celebrity, Lily, has been recognized state wide. 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 award 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. It is kind of amazing that, this is what happened,” Lily’s owner, Chuck Allured, said.

Lily’s veterinarian, Dr. Robin White, owner of Timbers Veterinary Services in Sutherlin, nominated Lily for this 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. Lily is definitely qualified for service,” White said. 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, and Allured started exposing her to a lot of different 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. 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 said. Allured then approached management at the hospital about starting a therapy dog program and allowing Lily to be a part of it.

Thanks to Lily, Allured and the team at Mercy Medical Center, the Therapy Dog Program at the hospital launched in the spring of 2021. Not only is the program continuing to grow, 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 unlike Allured, she wasn’t surprised at all that Lily was selected out of all of Oregon for the recent 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. “I had just started this role and started researching similar programs. I see it as divine providence that Lily just showed up at this exact time. This beautiful dog, just shows up,” Scott said. She said that initiating the launch of the program took some convincing, but that 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. Without Mercy, Lily wouldn’t be a therapy dog,” Allured said. Nowadays, Allured said Lily goes by, “Chief Therapy Dog,” leading the pack of the therapy dog program with four other therapy dogs: Gillian, Dory, Masie and Toby. “She needs an ego check,” he laughed. If it isn’t “Chief Therapy Dog,” Allured said Lily will introduce herself by her full name, Dr. Lily Jellystone. At the surgery center on kid’s day, Allured will clarify to the kids that it is not “Doctor” but “Dog-tor.” The joke never fails to bring cheer to some potentially anxious children. Lily and Allured spend about 30 hours each week doing visits, mostly at Mercy Medical Center and occasionally at the request of outside organizations such as Umpqua Community College, senior living centers or Camp Millennium. Lily has even spent time visiting firefighters at camp during local fires. Allured said when they first started, all he really focused on was the concept of what the program could do for the hospital patients. What he, Scott and Yoder found was the benefits of a loving Lily stretched far beyond just helping the patients. “I would say a lot of the time it’s the staff that benefits so much, and with what they’ve been through the last several years, they need it,” Scott said. Not only does Lily enjoy cheering up the hospital staff, but 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 a job is still what it is. “While cuddling with strangers all day might seem like play time for some dogs, it is hard and demanding work,” White said. “Yet this 3-yearold 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, friends with the deer on their property and occasionally gets in trouble for digging holes in the flower bed. Once she puts her vest on, however, she knows it’s time to work. “These dogs are not just pets. Although she is — and is a great friend and pet — when she isn’t working. These aren’t just ordinary dogs,” Allured said. Allured and Lily have indeed worked hard and have acquired an impressive list of certifications: AKC Canine Good Citizen, Canine Good Citizen Advanced, Canine Good Citizen Urban, Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dog, and AKC Advanced Therapy Dog. Lily is also about 20 therapy visits away from her AKC Expert designation. “There are a lot of dogs out there that are therapy dogs with a patch they could buy off Amazon — and then there are others that have gone through rigorous training. That is a lot of work on Chuck’s part, and he’s been continuing to move up the ladder,” White said. White was part of helping launch the therapy program, calling 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. We’re looking for more volunteers, and trying to find people that are passionate about it and a dog that is appropriate,” White said. Scott agreed she would ideally love a dog every morning and every afternoon, and one each weekend day.

Allured started his own nonprofit, Allure Therapy Dogs, assisting dogs interested in becoming therapy dogs with certifications, finances and training, to support Douglas County — all in an effort to see more therapy dogs in the community.