"Paws & Hearts"Animal Assisted Therapy


Second in Command, Scruffy Waxman,
passed away June 9, 2016.

It is still very difficult to put into words what the loss of "Scruffy" means. For many years Lucky and Scruffy did visits side-by-side, and then Scruffy was solo for about a year, and then along came Maddie for Scruffy to train. It can't be possible that both founding dogs have gone to the Rainbow Bridge.

The Desert Sun put together an amazing obituary notice and we've included some of the lovely notes received for Scruffy.

Last picture of "Scruffy" and Dad taken at the Palm Springs Library, March 2016

The cover picture on our brochures!

"Scruffy" the Volunteer Fire-fighter at the Joslyn Senior Center Health Fair, October 2015

"Scruffy" & "Maddie" on the famous ottoman at the Lucy Curci Cancer Center

Our 2014 Publicity Picture

"Scruffy" & "Maddie" made the Spring 2016 Cover for Modern Woodmen

Summer 2015 Palm Springs Library.

"Scruffy" & "Zoey" at the Palm Springs Library

Dressed up for Halloween at Windsor Court 2014

One of the tech's at Lucy Curci giving "Scruffy" a big kiss!

"Scruffy" & "Maddie" on a visit!

Always one to pose right for the camera--"Scruffy" at the Palm Springs Library

"Scruffy" & "Lucky" at Eisenhower Medical Center

Second in Command
"Scruffy" Waxman

A Tough Act to Follow!

On Scruffy's last afternoon at the office we put together his Face book story which we share here.

Monday morning and not my typical Volunteer Report. We are all very lucky in that we can make the world a better place by taking a lonely dog or a cat out of a shelter and providing them a loving home. We give them all kinds of love and affection, vaccination shots, lots of fun baths, and in some cases our dogs get a job that defines their journey on this earth.

My dog Scruffy, who I called Big Bear all of his life, went to join his buddy Lucky at the Rainbow Bridge last Thursday. Scruffy was diagnosed with diabetes 18 months ago, and Cushing's disease 14 months ago. For a year and half, the insulin for the diabetes worked, and the medication for Cushing's worked. And then 2 weeks ago, nothing much worked. There were many trips to Dr. Hick's, way too many at-home blood sugar tests, and just too much stress for a 15 year old dog, with two really strong diseases.

So, the evening after Scruffy's Wednesday visit to Dr. Hick's, I just had a talk with him. I gave him the option that if he'd had enough of the pokes, and the insulin, and being carried everywhere, he could go and join Lucky and be out of pain and be young again. Scruffy, who never kissed his Dad on the face, looked at me with his cloudy old eyes, and totally covered my face in sweet, warm kisses. And there was my answer.

The pain of losing Scruffy is still way too intense to really talk about without crying, but before I post all the pictures with this note I just have to say how proud I am of all the thousands of hours of volunteering that Scruffy did. He visited Eisenhower Medical Center 3-mornings every week for 13 years. For this last year and a half, he visited the Lucy Curci Cancer Center every Wednesday morning. And he was interviewed many times on KMIR, made hundreds of presentations around the valley, did every library reading session, and even made the cover of a national magazine this Spring. Not bad for a pup who was found in Indio tied up to some discarded furniture by a good Samaritan who picked him up and took to the Pet Rescue Center. He came to our second Dog Walk with a group of dogs up for adoption, and he and Lucky hit it off instantly and the rest was history! In Yiddish this means, bushert--meant to be.

My favorite Scruffy story is now many years old--he and Lucky were visiting a cancer patient at Eisenhower who had lost all of her hair. She was sitting up in bed and invited both boys up on the bed with her. Scruffy walked around behind the woman, stood up, put his front paws on her shoulders and proceeded to lick her ear lobes. I'd never seen him doing that, and I'm saying, "Scruffy, get down." The patient asked how my dog knew that her ears were so sensitive from the chemo, and begged me to let him keep on doing it because it felt so good. For the next 10 minutes, Scruffy licked, the woman smiled and cried, and I had a big lump in my throat.

Scruffy was an amazing therapy dog. He had a much quieter style than Lucky--he made patients feel better by lying down at their side and kissing their hand. For years, I heard how relaxing those kisses felt, and my all-time favorite line, 'you made my day!' And now I've been able to make Scruffy feel better, by letting him rejoin his buddy Lucky. Scruffy, you have no idea how much Dad misses you. We had a hell of a good time these last 14 years together. You and Lucky, and then you and Maddie, made great teams. I just trailed along behind, and watched you work, in total amazement.

Rest in peace Big Bear. Maddie, Samantha and I are very unhappy without you at home.

We sincerely thank Dr. Terry Hicks, at the Palm Desert Pet Hospital for all the care he gave Scruffy through this final chapter. Terry and his staff worked very hard to keep Scruffy as healthy as possible, for as long as possible. Our Face book page is not set up to accept messages, if anyone would like to send a note either in writing or electronically, our email address is, pawsandhearts@aol.com and the office address can be found there.

One last thing, Scruffy was with me at the office last Thursday afternoon before our trip to Dr. Hicks. He and I wrote this together. I wanted him to know how proud I was of him, and how much he was loved and will always be missed.

After the news of Scruffy's passing emails began arriving. If you can believe it, these are just a sampling of what people had to say about him...

I am so sorry to hear this news. It's so hard to have to say goodbye to a member of the family. I know there are really no words that can comfort, but I just wanted to let you know I am thinking of you. But I have no doubt that Scruffy, after all the mitzvas that he did in his lifetime - thanks to you - is in the best place he can be.

My thoughts and prayers are definitely with you.


Sending love to Paws & Hearts today. Scruffy was featured on the cover of the spring 2016 issue of The Modern Woodmen magazine. He was an incredible pup who truly made an impact as a therapy dog. Rest in peace!

Modern Woodmen of America

Richard. Sorry to hear the sad news about Scruffy.
You are in our prayers.


My heart goes out to you and everyone who knew and loved Scruffy. What an honor to see this photo from the Library. He was always such a good companion and good worker! He will truly be missed by many of us. He was so fortunate to have you as his Dad!

Thinking of you, Sharon

Oh Richard, I am so sorry. I wish I was there to give you a big hug. What an incredible tribute to Scruffy and how hard it must have been to write the story but so worth every minute of it. Take care.

Richard, the memories of this special dog, your work together and your special bond will, I believe, be both a comfort and for a while a very painful reminder. But I believe that people who truly love and care for animals have the most difficulty losing them. Some days will be easier than others but especially hard because he was not just part of your home life but also a big part of your work life.


So very sorry for the loss of Scruffy. He was such a sweet boy and I will miss his wanting treats at the library. He sure made lots of patients happy over the years. My thoughts are with you.

Take care, Cathy Robinson

I'm so sorry to hear this. I hope you're ok. Scruffy did great things and touched many people's lives and will be missed by everyone. Need a hug?


I am beyond sad...The tears in my eyes are nothing compared to what you are experiencing. It is never easy to say goodbye no matter how we can look at it "intellectually" it just f***ing hurts! I am glad you & Drew have one another for comfort. Please be good to yourself & know how special you are.


Sorry to hear about Scruffy, he was a scrappy little guy. He and Lucky will be able to play together again (I'm sure they missed each other) in a better place.

My condolences
Samir Khanna

Richard, your post was both heart wrenching, and beautiful. We all cry with you during this time of suffering. Please remember, you will see your partner again. So many years Scruffy worked on taking away the patients suffering, offering love and kisses. The wonderful memories of watching that magic unfold in front of you when a new patient arrives, and Scruffy starts to work.

Now that the tears have stopped I can send my heart felt condolence to you as I know how much losing another best friend hurts. At least you know that he is playing with Lucky in peace. What an enriching life you provided for him and he in turn for you and those hundreds of patients who benefited from his sweet kisses. We will miss you Scruffy. Hugs.

If we all could be like Scruffy, loving, kind and grateful for the little things in life this world would be a better place. It's the gentle creatures of this world that can teach us volumes about being a better person to each other. Rest in Peace Scruffy.

When you love dogs, as so many of us do, and when a dog loves you back, you understand how this loss both empties with the loss and fills you with the grief. So sorry for this huge loss.

Andy and I will always remember the holiday visits we did with Scruffy at EMC. He was a true gentleman. Always in our hearts.

Ann & "Andy"

A truly gifted dog, Scruffy, who gave so much love and support to many hundreds of patients over 13 years of service!!! He will be greatly missed by so many.

What a beautiful tribute, Richard. He provided so much happiness to the informed for so many years. He is surely in doggie heaven. Rip Scruffy.


This is so hard to write. I know the suffering you are going through. The loss of one our partners in life is so very difficult to cope with, and I'm so sorry for your loss. MaryAnn didn't tell me until Saturday, she knew that I would be crying over this, and I am.

Scruffy, Lucky, Maddie and you have worked so hard to help people in their loneliness and pain, then growing an organization that now has helped thousands of patients get through theirs. I wish there was some way to help with yours right now.

Scruffy is now with Lucky with no pain, and a lifetime of good memories making lots of people very happy. I've always believed that we will see our partners again when it's our turn to leave this earth. That's what I hold on to, knowing they're not gone, just waiting for us, as I am for them.



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"Paws & Hearts" Animal Assisted Therapy
The Berger Foundation Building

42-600 Cook Street, Suite 138, Palm Desert, CA 92211
Phone (760) 836-1406