What a Halloween Party this was! Carol's family used this picture as a Christmas card that year!
"Can I just play hide-n-seek down here?"
One of "Lucky's" favorite patients at Valencia Palms.
"Lucky" and the patient pose for the camera.
"Lucky's" favorite spot was in a patient's lap.
"Just hold me so I don't slip down between your legs."
Barbara waited every week to have "Lucky" on her bed.
James and "Lucky" truly had a special connection. "Lucky" would kiss James all over, and James loved
"Lucky" and Elano always spent a lot of time visiting Valencia Palms.
"Lucky", Dad and a patient at California Nursing and Rehabilitation.
"Lucky" in the volunteer office at Eisenhower Medical Center with Donnie, Halloween 2003.
Dear Edith..she was the one who taught "Lucky" that trick of taking a cookie from her mouth. These
two were great pals!
Lets both smile for the camera!
"Could I make myself anymore comfortable?"
"Lucky" always loved a tray or a wheelchair so he could get really close to the patients.
"I'll play with all of you!" Martha's Village Kitchen.
"Lucky" and Dad one Halloween at Eisenhower Medical Center, 2003
"I'll just let this woman pet me for as long as she wants."
Uncle Phillip worked with "Lucky" a lot in the first years.
"Lucky" and Uncle Phillip at our very first fund raiser at Ruby's Diner, Palm Springs.
Founder "Lucky" Waxman
The End of an Era at "Paws & Hearts"
Richard Waxman, Executive Director "Paws & Hearts" and Dad
On July 4, 1998 I was looking at a condo and this little white poodle mix jumped right up into my
arms. No collar, full of fleas and ticks, it was apparent he'd been abandoned. He saw the word sucker
engraved on my forehead and home we went.
Didn't take long before I named him Lucky, because I thought I was very lucky that he found me. In
Yiddish we have a word, 'buschert' and it means, meant-to-be, and if ever two lives were meant to
collide it was Lucky's and mine. For the next twelve years, Lucky was at my side, actually up in my
right arm as we built "Paws & Hearts" Animal Assisted
Therapy. Lucky was the founder, I was just the executive director.
Lucky was still a puppy when we were invited to Valencia Palms Nursing Home in Indio. Lucky turned
out to be marvelous on the beds with the patients and the Desert Sun sent a writer and photographer
on our next visit, and when the story and photograph ran in the paper, our journey together began!
Potential volunteers read about Lucky's visits and they wanted to take their dogs on visits and what
I thought would become a hobby, quickly became a full-time career. Lucky and I began making
presentations to the Activities Directors at local nursing homes about a new program, temperament
tests were conducted, and Lucky's visits became training visits for the new volunteers.
Very quickly an office in Palm Desert opened, a board of directors was assembled, and Lucky and I
began making presentations at local rotaries and service clubs. Gino Lamont from KMIR 6 had us on his
morning show a dozen times that first year, and the response from potential volunteers, donors and
facilities was overwhelming. We were on our way, and the next decade of my life flew by in a
We were asked to visit the Oncology floor on Wednesday afternoons at Eisenhower Medical Center and a
couple of years into it, we began visiting 3 times per week so that all the floors were covered. My
second dog, "Scruffy" came along, and after some intense training by his older brother, he began
going on visits with us, and the two of them worked like a well-oiled machine, Lucky always the star,
and Scruffy a very happy Ethel Mertz, the second banana.
In the Spring of 2011 Lucky developed a cough that just would not go away. Many trips to the vet,
many medications later, Lucky passed away very suddenly June 28th from a tumor on his liver that
I can't remember a time when Lucky wasn't under my arm at Eisenhower. We'd enter a patient's room and
I'd say, "Lucky and Scruffy are here to visit. Would you like them on your bed?" And Lucky would lay
across the patient's chest and Scruffy would snuggle in along-side their leg. I never thought this
would ever change, but sadly it has. Scruffy has become Numero Uno now at Eisenhower and he does his
older brother proud visiting with the patients and making them feel better. Not a visit goes by that
someone doesn't ask, "Where is the little white dog?" and as much as that hurts, just knowing that
Lucky is missed is thanks enough for the memories he made over 9 years, and an estimated 32,000
individual room visits.
To watch a video of Lucky and Scruffy at work, and to see what your dog could do as a Canine
Ambassador please click below.
Rest in peace Luck,
your work and your legacy will never be forgotten!
After reading an article on "Paws & Hearts" Animal Assisted
Therapy in The Desert Sun from June 28, 2013, Barbara King sent this lovely note to
reminisce about a visit from Lucky and Scruffy, that took place a few years ago at Eisenhower Medical
After the news of Lucky's passing emails began arriving. If you
can believe it, these are just a sampling of what people had to say about
Every time I touch anything Paws & Hearts related, I think of Lucky - even if I catch a
glimpse of the USB stick I use to copy the database back and forth to your office. When I visit
the office, I see all the pictures of Lucky and I wonder how you can stand it. He was such a
special little dog - with a heart bigger than many humans I've met.
I heard a young woman once ask a priest if her dog would be in heaven with her. His answer was
that if when she arrived in heaven, the only thing that kept her from experiencing paradise was
missing her dog, then, yes, the dog would be in heaven with her. Richard, Lucky is in heaven
right now. I hope it's many years before the two of you are reunited, but he will be there
ready to greet you (and show you around the place). He's a little doggie angel and will watch
over you for the rest of your days.
My heart goes out to you and Scruffy. Lucky was the best dog ever. I know you will both miss
him. The piece in the paper was so special. Lucky is in heaven with all my dogs and they are
having the best time running and and playing. I know that it is not the same as having him with
you and Scruffy, however he is very busy watching over you.
I hereby propose that the 2011 annual "Dog Walk" be dedicated to "Lucky" Waxman...
I just got back from my trip to Mexico and I am at a total loss for words on your recent loss.
My heart goes out to you and may Lucky rest in peace and no one will ever forget Lucky. Much
love coming your way in your loss.
Wanda & Barry + Raisin
I just wanted to let you know how much of an influence the pair of you and Lucky, and then
later Scruffy had on my life. You all as a team gave me the gift of knowing how good it feels
to volunteer and help other people smile and feel better.
I still have my Annie, but, its not quite the same now that she is retired. I am so sorry for
your loss as I am having a bit of a hard time over Lucky's passing myself. Do the best you can,
and know we are all pulling for you. Give Scruffy and big hug and kiss for me.
Lucky will be so very, very missed by so many, many people (of course including me). You of
course, will miss him the most and Scruffy too will miss his "brother" in his own way.
Thank you for the email notice.
I am so sorry for your loss. I still remember the first day you came into Tish's office with
What a special part of your life. I am sure he is in a VERY good place due to what he was able
to accomplish while he was with you. You will probably never know how many people he was able
to touch and make feel better.
Good morning, Richard
I just heard about Lucky's passing. I know how much he meant to you and could see how much you
loved him. I hope you take comfort in knowing that he gave joy to so many people in their time
of need and helped many on their road to recovery. I'm sending you all my prayers through this
Communications and Public Relations Specialist
Eisenhower Medical Center
I'm so saddened by the news about Lucky! I ,too, felt he WAS Paws and Hearts. I'm out of town,
now, and when I get back I would like to make a contribution in his name. I'm so sorry,
Please accept my heart felt condolences on your loss of a fine friend and companion. You and
Lucky are in our thoughts. We wish you and all your ambassadors well. Keep up the good
With Warm Regards,
I am so, so sorry and shocked to hear of the sudden passing of your beloved Lucky. Words
cannot express how I feel - only that being a dog mom of wonderful boys myself, I can
understand and sympathize with the grief and heartache you are going through. My thoughts and
prayers are with the soul of your little boy and with you and Scruffy.
Chief Program Officer
Desert Healthcare District
I'm so sorry for your loss. I can only begin to imagine how you must be feeling, as I dread
the day I am in your circumstance. It was a beautiful obituary, well deserved, and a tear
jerker. Thinking of you.
Bruce and Kinsey
We send our sincere condolences to you and Scruffy on the loss of your sweet Lucky. I heard
that your boy had passed away when we were visiting the Carlotta this morning. Maddy and I
drove to your office after our visit to extend our sympathies and were sorry we missed you.
Rest in Peace Lucky,
Sue & Maddy Taylor
I am so very sorry. It is said that our four legged children are the first to meet us at the
gates of heaven and welcome us home. I have no doubt that Lucky will be there to greet you. It
is never farewell but just good by for now.........
So sorry, Lucky was a true gentleman and an inspiration to all of his fellow volunteers. We
will all miss his furry little face and happy bark.
Love to you and Scruffy.
Ann, Rey and Andy
I am soooo sorry to hear the news.
I too am speechless on what to say, from my own experience, loss is a toughy. The obituary is
beautifully written. I hope you will find comfort in the good work he did and the memories of
the many visits you both went on together over the years helping patients feel better. Please
know I will be sending in a memorial donation.
Love you, Richard.
Desert Community Foundation
I was so sorry to hear about Lucky's passing this week. I'm so sad for you and of course for
all the patients who will never meet that precious pup. We're sharing the news with staff at
Eisenhower, so I know many, many kind thoughts will be sent your way.
Thinking of you,
Director, Marketing and Public Relations
Eisenhower Medical Center
I am so sorry. Lucky leaves a great legacy and some big pawprints to fill. How fortunate we
were to know him.
You and Scruffy cling tight to each other.
There are not words to express my sadness over Lucky's passing. I know from experience that
there is nothing worse than losing one's beloved pet. That Lucky changed so many lives during
his own too brief life is little consolation, but it does help to know that he influenced so
many people. Richard, my heart goes out to you. Know that you and Lucky remain in my heart.
I am so very sorry. I know losing your sweet Lucky is so hard - he was your buddy for so long.
What joy he brought to so many.I send you my condolences...
I am so sorry to hear this news. There is no doubt that wherever and whatever dog heaven is,
Lucky has a front-row seat there for all the wonderful work he did. May you be comforted, in
time, by the beautiful memories of Lucky and all he did to help make the world a better
ohh Ricky i am so sorry, i wish i can take a little piece of that pain for you so you can feel
a little better. you loved him fully and wonderfully, as best that can ever possibly be, and
Lucky knows it and feels it now, and you will most definitely see him again and again.. I love
all of you!
I'm so sorry that your sweet sweet Lucky is gone. He made a difference in the lives of so many
of our cancer patients and so many people in our valley.
My heart is with you,