PORTLAND, Ore. - An organization in Portland, Oregon brings joy to sick children through puppies, specifically, piles and piles of puffy, fluffy, little puppies.
The non-profit brings puppies to children who are suffering from a chronic illness, are terminally ill, or who have disabilities. Upon the puppies' arrival, the children are gleefully covered in a literal blanket of tiny, furry puppies.
10-year-old Lilly, who was diagnosed recently with a rare cancer called Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis after also suffering the unexpected, tragic loss of her father, recently experienced the joy of Pile of Puppies for herself.
"I've had to go in weekly and now every three weeks to get chemo in my port and it's been really hard," said Lilly. "This puppy makes everything better," she said.
Families can apply for the experience with Pile of Puppies, which costs them nothing. The organization typically partners with local hospitals and Ronald McDonald House for referrals, along with licensed and vetted breeders whose puppies need socialization.
"We use breeders because we are working with a sensitive population who have health risks and lower immune systems," according to the Pile of Puppies website. "We must know where the puppies have come from and know that the puppies are also healthy."
Jennifer Thompson Tepanier, the creator of Pile of Puppies, says the motto of the organization, and her personal mantra, is, "There is always light within the darkness." Diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease herself at a young age, Tepanier says she nearly died twice, once as a child, and again as a new mother.
She knows first-hand what it's like to suffer, but find empowerment and joy, even in the hardest times. "I can't tell you how many amazing people I've met on this journey and it just continues," Tepanier told FOX 13.
Currently, Pile of Puppies is only available in Oregon, but Tepanier said she plans to take the organization nationwide.
For more information, head to the Pile of Puppies website.