making a difference

Furry Volunteer Helps Comfort Sick Kids at South Florida Hospital

He’ s not the doctor, but he’s making his rounds at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital

NBCUniversal, Inc.

There’s a tap on a patient’s door at Nicklaus Children's Hospital - and who could say no to what's on the other side!

Shara Waas is alongside her furry sidekick, Alfie the therapy dog. The duo roam the halls at the Southwest Miami-Dade children's hospital providing a moment of happiness in a world of needles and tests.

4-year-old Camila Vega is tethered to her hospital equipment because she’s been suffering seizures. Greeting the Golden Doodle is a welcome reprieve for both Camila and her mom, Celia.

“When you see them laughing it’s like, what can I say? It’s something that you cannot explain,” said Celia, wiping tears.

Alfie got his name because he bears a striking resemblance to the comedic extraterrestrial from the 80s NBC sitcom, Alf.

Waas says his golden locks get a bath before every work shift. He’s been soothing young patients going on eight years. At Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, his official title is “cuddle volunteer.”

The same morning he also visited five-year-old Mia, who could not speak because she just had throat surgery. The kindergartner couldn't stop petting Alfie. Waas explained how in this patient relationship, no words are necessary.

“It’s just seeing them smile and seeing them enjoy their time with him, it’s very very special,” said Waas.

Contact Us