ANIMALS take the lead for this volunteering program.
Paws Pet Therapy has been delivering doggy-kisses and waggy-tails since 2012.
About 40 volunteers visit 30 facilities and hundreds of people each week, from the Southern Highlands to Goulburn, Nowra, Shoalhaven, Camden, Campbelltown and Camperdown.
Some dogs even have their own "caseloads".
Wendy and her dog Angus, a black poodle x shitzu, attend the Southern Highlands Cancer Centre where Angus sits with patients receiving chemotherapy.
One patient who Angus regularly sees is Roslyn Vaughan.
Mrs Vaughan said Angus really got to know her, and cheekily regarded herself as one of his "favourites".
"One time he was visiting another patient, and when he saw me come in he left the patient and jumped straight into my lap," she said.
Angus has been helping Mrs Vaughan receive treatment for multiple sclerosis for the past two years.
"He's been with me all the time," she said.
"I'm bad with needles, my veins run away, so he stays with me, lies on my lap and watches everything they do.
"It calms me down so I'm not as nervous, I stroke him on my lap, pull on his ears as they're so soft, and talk to the owner, so I'm distracted the whole time."
Being from a farm, and owning three cats and one dog, it was important to Mrs Vaughan that she had a furry friend with her.
"My dog Harley gets too excitable around other people, so he can't come into the hospital with me," she said.
"Angus has a really calm nature about him and if I'm upset, he seems to know, and gives me licks while looking at me with those loving eyes."
Paws Pet Therapy organiser Lisa McKay said what the volunteers do "is magic".
"Our people and dogs bring joy to people who have very little in the lives, comfort where it is most needed, laughter where you would like it wasn't possible and compassion without the need for words," she said.
"The simple presence of a dog brings contentment, peace and happiness, and the volunteers who make these interactions possible are amazing and dedicated people."
The need of both the animals and their handlers must be taken into consideration, due to the nature of their work.
"We have had an instance where a dog has needed to be rested for a few weeks after a client they visited regularly passed away, and he became depressed," Ms McKay said.
"It is not always an easy job but it is an extremely rewarding one."
Recently, the not-for-profit started "Paws 'n' Tales", a reading program for children at the Wingecarribee Public Library in Bowral.
Ms McKay said the individual reading sessions, for children aged four to eight, was not just for children with reading difficulties.
"We also help children with their confidence," she said.
"Our dogs don't judge their young reading buddies and our caring volunteers provide a calm presence, guiding the interaction between their dog and the child."
Paws Pet Therapy was founded by Sharon Stewart, who has three therapy dogs of her own, including Hudson.
To find out more about Paws Pet Therapy, and to view profiles of all the dogs, visit www.pawspettherapy.com.
To book into the Paws 'n' Tales program, contact Bowral Library on 1300 266 235.
Paws Pet Therapy is always looking for volunteers and their dogs to help them in the Southern Highlands area. Call Sharon on 4681 0499 if you're interested in helping.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.