Sorry for my long absence. My husband, Peter, was terminally ill and I was unable to get to my blog. Pete passed in April and I miss him more than mere words can say.
Today I want to readdress the value of therapy dogs. As you may know, I wrote how important therapy dogs were for those suffering with PTSD or helpful for those feeling mild anxiety. We all need a friend. Sometimes, though, we are not up to dealing with a person, a group, or even interacting with anyone. Hopefully the day will come when we can get back into relationships which will help us recover, but as we work towards this, a lot of us do not have to be totally alone.
As we struggle to find our way, confused as to who we are, there might be a friend available who will not judge us, nor question what we do or do not do. This friend is content just to be in our presence, offering comfort, love and acceptance
All dogs have some therapeutic value. Anyone from Aries to Pisces who shares their life with a dog knows how much their dog enhances their life. What a relief it can be to kick back and grin at your dog, both of you happy to be together. You might even say, after a long day, “You and me against the world, buddy!’ The dog will wag its tail, give you a kiss and totally agree with you. He or she has always known this and is glad you know it too.
For those who feel cut off from the world and find getting up in the morning a difficult task, reaching out to a person may not be possible at that time. However, the first step to recovery could be to reach out and stoke your dog’s head, to accept the lick on your hand.
For my husband, so very ill and unable to accept the turn his life had taken, his therapy dog was Jake. Jake is a pit bull mix rescued as most pet pits are. The comfort Jake gave to my husband cannot be measured. Pete had cancer and he opted to fight it with extensive chemotherapy. He fought for over a year until his oncologist advised him to stop. The chemo had ceased to help. Pete got up in the mornings not because I had made breakfast and wanted him to eat. He resisted food. He got up because Jake sat by his bed staring into his face until he got up. Pete insisted it was Jake who was hungry when I put his breakfast on the table. We made a deal. If I made sausage and bacon for Jake, Pete would eat his breakfast. It must have been one of those secret communications between them. 🙂
After breakfast they both sat on the couch to watch the news every morning, Pete with his arm around his dog and Jake snuggling in. “Isn’t he beautiful?” Pete asks often. Well, he certainly is. Pete’s face, wracked in pain would relax when he stroked his dog and spoke to him. Jake was an attentive listener.
As Pete’s illness progressed nurses came to the house daily. I had to lock Jake up. He was fine with them. They were not fine with him. Initially I was grateful for the help and listened to all their needs until I heard the nurse tell Pete that dogs had no place in his sick room. I heard him ask again for his dog. The well-meaning nurse denied him again.I thought about this. There was no doubt about it. Pete needed the comfort of his dog. I went to speak with the nurse and told her that Pete had an important visitor arriving and would it be convenient for her to leave for a while. She said she had an errand to run.
For the first time in days, Pete’s face lit up when Jake ran into his bedroom. Jake took his usual place sitting as close to the bed as he could while Pete stroked him with a shaking hand. “Isn’t Jake a beautiful dog, Lu?” he asked. Tears running down my cheeks, I agreed. Jake definitely is a beautiful dog.
I understood the nurses’ concerns, but whenever they were not in the house, Jake was with his master.
When Father George came to pray with Pete, his family gathered around the bed. Father George had no objection to an important family member being present. He told Pete he had a fine dog.
All of Pete’s people helped him and supported him. He was a much loved man. Pete showed his love for us in return, but the only family member that caused his face to soften, helped to ease his pain and lessen his fear of the unknown was his dog, Jake.
Pete loved to take Jake to the park, but the time had passed when he could walk him himself. Fortunately his daughter Nikki was happy to help and they were still able to go for a walk together.
I wanted to write this blog as a tribute to Jake and to all therapy dogs the world over.
Therapy dogs are dogs who want to share and care about you and your life. They are out there waiting for you to find them. They need you as much as you need them – I hope you find each other.
Thanks for sharing – until next post 🙂