People usually don't notice Dr. Phil Mosca when he walks the halls of Integris Southwest Medical Center. They notice his dog.
The 71-pound boxer, Boz, draws smiles and puzzled looks as he makes his rounds as a therapy dog. Patients pet him, cuddle him and feed him treats, and their demeanor improves immediately, Mosca said.
"It's good for the patients,” he said. "It's good for me, too.”
Mosca adopted Boz about a year ago from Tulsa Boxer Rescue, but when Mosca took him home, he noticed a bit of odd behavior. Boz had severe separation anxiety and would knock things over while his owner was gone. So, the doctor began taking his dog to the office. The anxiety subsided.
A friend met Boz and suggested his calm, sweet personality was perfect for a therapy dog. Mosca already planned to take Boz to training classes, so he tacked on Sunday afternoon therapy training. Therapy dogs must pass a series of tests that ensure the animals are calm, focused and gentle. The dogs must also be trained to be at ease around wheelchairs, walkers and other medical equipment, Mosca said.
Boz still isn't too sure about the floor buffers, though.
Mosca volunteers with Boz about an hour before work three days a week. Patients often request to see the boxer, Mosca said, and nurses recommend people to visit. Children pet him, brush his coat or feed him treats during medical procedures that might otherwise be frightening. Adults pat his head and talk about their dogs.
"This gives the patient something else to focus on,” Mosca said.
When Boz isn't working, he hangs out in the urology office with Mosca. He may visit a few more patients if they request him, but mostly he woos the nurses and office staff. And he naps. While Boz is sleeping, Mosca is working and answering everyone's question: "Where's Boz?”