Metro Detroit hospital says goodbye to therapy dog diagnosed with cancer

Posted at 4:44 PM, Oct 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-10 16:44:47-04

Staff members of Saint Mary Mercy Hospital in Livonia are having a hard time saying goodbye to a therapy dog, Maya, who was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Maya only has days to live but she and her owner, Ray Rauen, went to the hospital so doctors and nurses could see her one last time.

"Maya has entered into so many lives and changed so many of them," Ray said.

Ray says has always been a cat person, until he adopted Maya from a Detroit shelter seven years ago.

Because of her calm, friendly demeanor, she became one of 15 therapy dogs at Saint Mary Mercy Hospital, winning awards and winning the hearts of those around her.

"We've had people lay on the ground with her," Ray explained. "We've had people ask if she can help perform miracles on their loved ones. We've had some fun times."

The German Shepard-Labrador mix volunteered nearly 4,000 hours to the community.

Ray said, "She's given so much."

Saturday, when Maya didn't seem to be her usual perky self, Ray rushed her to the veterinarian. That's when he found out she has cancer throughout her body.

"She's just been laying around, just tired and ready to go."

She wasn't just a therapy dog for patients but for employees as well. Laura Gutierrez is a spokesperson for St. Mary Mercy Hospital.

"A relief from the seriousness of the work that everyone does in the hospital to have that moment of relief that Maya and Ray brought to them will be really missed and will be hard to fill, if ever," she explained.

Employees lined up to give their final goodbyes to Maya and support to Ray.

Laura added, "Yeah I really got attached to her, she's special, very special."

Many shared with us their own stories and photos of Maya, especially all the times she would come dressed up.

"In a hospital environment there is a lot of sadness that goes on and so if we can make somebody laugh, or smile no matter how sick they are, not matter how they are feeling," Ray explained.

We asked Ray what will be his final words to his best friend of seven years.

He tearfully said, "I love you, I will see you again."