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John B. Newman remembers the night his pet Bichon, Quincy, saved his life. Newman is Chairman of the Board of Directors for St. John Canada Foundation and is an enthusiastic supporter of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
One summer night several years ago, Newman and his family awoke to the sound of Quincy's persistent barking.
What was Quincy trying to say?
As the Newman family lay fast asleep, a smokeless and odourless fire had started in a concealed electrical panel at their Muskoka cottage.
"The smoke alarm did not deploy that night, and had it not been for Quincy, we would have continued to sleep while the wooden-frame building was being engulfed in flames," said Newman.
Puppy love for the kids at the Princess Margaret's Magic Castle
Following this, Newman was inspired to commission the production of 1,000 plush Bichon dogs to honour the type of heroic protection that Quincy embodied that night. As a proud supporter of the Princess Margaret, one of the top five cancer research centres in the world, Newman knew the perfect group to bestow this gift upon: the children at the Princess Margaret's Magic Castle.
The Princess Margaret's Magic Castle is an important facility that provides childcare services free of charge to the children of cancer patients attending appointments or children of family members visiting cancer patients receiving 24-hour care.
Newman presented the generous gift on April 16, 2014 in the main atrium of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre on behalf of St. John Canada Foundation.
Alketa Kumbaro, coordinator of services at the Magic Castle, looks forward to sharing the plush dogs with the children.
"It will be a delight to present each of our young visitors to the Magic Castle with one of these special Quincy dogs and to tell them the story of what a lifesaver Quincy was for the Newman family," said Kumbaro.
The inspiration behind the donation
The idea of providing plush dogs as a form of psychosocial support to children visiting the Magic Castle was inspired by the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program. During their volunteer community service visits, Therapy Dog teams visit children, the elderly and the sick to enrich their lives. In a similar vein, the plush Quincy dogs are meant to provide a form of comfort to children visiting the Magic Castle as their loved ones battle cancer.
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is in the midst of a Billion Dollar Challenge to raise funds for the creation of the new gold standard in cancer care: Personalized Cancer Medicine. Included in their definition of Personalized Cancer Medicine is the importance of supporting individual patients, as well as their children and families, according to their unique needs. Early response to the Quincy dogs at the Magic Castle has been nothing short of outstanding.
Then again, who could resist a plush Bichon puppy?
To find out more about the Magic Castle at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, please visit