Therapy Thursday ~ April 18, 2019

A couple of weeks ago Dogtor Sam and I did our regular monthly stint at hospital and hospice. But there was nothing ‘regular’ about them. All our visits are special in my mind, but these were extra special and, I’d like to think, we made more than a few peeps feel just a bit better.

Just as we were about to go to hospice, a tall, thin fella who seemed somewhat frantic come up to us and wondered if we would take the time to visit his daughter who had not seen a pet visit while she’d been in the Neuro-Critical Care ward. Not going to this area very often, I was more than happy to swing by after our assigned floor was completed (we were way-laid several times by other requests). We headed over to NCC and arrived at a room where a pale young women weakly smiled when I knocked on her door. I mentioned her dad had asked us to drop by and she said she’d love a visit. Sam knew exactly what to do. Patient “Kristy” clearly had a lot of recovery ahead of her, but her face lit up when she saw him. She and her visitor squealed out loud when she saw Sam. I knew he was probably tuckered out, but this boy knows what to do and does it. I wish I were as good as he is at the end of long visits, having people pawing at you, hugging on you and just generally being 110% “on” for hours. “Kristy” was clearly tired but enjoyed an abbreviated visit. Leaving the hospital, we then headed over to hospice.

HospiceWhile we made the rounds visiting with a new hospice doctor, all the nurses and a few visitors, we ended up spending a lot of time with a fairly young-looking woman and her daughter at hospice. It was almost an afterthought visit, as we’d seen so many people, Sam was petty tired and their room was full of family members paying their respects.ย  In those circumstances, I don’t generally intrude, especially when the end is so close (according to the nurse), but when “Kate” came out into the hallway and said how much she could really benefit from a visit, how could we refuse? “Of course,” I replied, “we’d be more than happy to spend some time with you.” She indicated the patient was her husband, which totally surprised me since I erroneously thought the man in the bed was her father. A daughter came out and we all convened in the middle of the hallway. Sam seemed refreshed and eager to check them out and when the woman knelt down in front of him, he patiently gazed as deeply into her eyes as I’ve ever seen. She teared up and said how much she needed him that moment. I just smiled not knowing if there’s something I should say, or even what to say.

The thing is, Sam knew exactly how to bring a smile to her face. She teared up, her daughter also smiled and they both thanked us repeatedly. Sam wagged his tail in reply.

When we visit with peeps, especially those far too young to be at hospice, it’s sometimes hard to know what to say to comfort them. Especially when the end is so close or unexpected. Thankfully, Sam knows exactly what to do and takes over. A well-timed tail wag, a soulful look, and he provides oodles of poodles of comfort. This guy knows exactly what people need and delivers it with no coaching from me. I stand there like a lump, my mind racing as to what I can do to provide loving comfort as the patient transitions on to the next life.

The following day at West Pines had more impactful visits. Sam really connects well with the patients who are in recovery, and seamlessly manages to bring relief to the staff as well. This knuckleheaded dog has such compassion for hurting patients and staff. As we were preparing to sign out, a staff person came by and asked if she could have a minute with Sam. Attentive and accommodating as always, he obliged. She lingered on the floor with Sam, saying it had been a really rough day, but to spend some time AND receive a kiss from him, made all the difference in her day, not to mention mine. This dog makes my heart swell. We’re going back next week and look forward to more rewarding encounters.

Sam

Live, love, bark! ๐Ÿพ

81 thoughts on “Therapy Thursday ~ April 18, 2019

    1. He’s good at reading people and seeing who needs him the most. Course he’s shameless and will visit with everyone but he seems to separate the most needy first. It still surprises me.

    1. Sam knows how to make folks smile. Me, not nearly as much, but I’m trying to be more like him. LOL

  1. Beautiful post! I thought of Sam this past week when I visited an outpatient hospital facility. There was a bulletin board up by a nurse’s area and it was full of little postcards. Each had a picture of a therapy dog (surrounded by hearts) and the words “[dog’s name] visited me today!” There were lots of poodles and doodles. Thought it was a nice idea to leave a doggy calling card behind for people after visits!

    1. Aww, that’s so sweet. I’m convinced the hospital doesn’t know my name, but they make business cards for all the therapy dogs with their photos on one side and a profile on the reverse. It’s pretty cute for the patients and even the nurse collect them. ๐Ÿ˜

  2. Now I’m having to repair my makeup before going to work. ๐Ÿ™‚ As I’ve commented before, Sam is an amazing, natural therapist. kisses and hugs to him and thanks to you for helping him fulfill his mission.

  3. Oh Sam, you are the BESTEST! You had Ma’s eyes leaking reading all the comfort you bring! She looked at me and said, ‘why can’t YOU do that???’, and I just said, cause Sam does it for all of us that are too hyper to do it! BOL! So Sam, thank you for all the comfort and calmness you bring to those who need it most. {{{hugs}}}
    Kisses,
    Ruby โ™ฅ

    1. Thanks, Ruby. Tell your ma that no one would recognize the Sam at home is the same dog that goes to hospital and performs miracles for patients. At home, he’s quite the knuckleheaded spaz bouncing all over the place! โค๏ธŽ

  4. How my mother would have enjoyed a visit from Sam…but neither she nor the hospital staff expected her to die so he missed out on the Maltesers she would inevitably have offered him.

  5. We thank you and Sam so much for all that you do to bring a little sunshine into the lives of others. Your post brought tears to our eyes. Hugs.

    Woos – Lightning, Misty, and Timber and Mom

  6. What a wonderful week you and Sam had helping others. While we humans have so much trouble finding words to help others, dogs know just what to do. Their actions most likely provide far more comfort than our words could anyway. โ™ฅโ™ฅโ™ฅ

    1. It probably wouldn’t be a good thing for me to wag my back end, so I just smile and let Sam do the heavy lifting. ๐Ÿ˜„

  7. Dogtor Sam is a true hero. I love your accounting of his visits to the suffering. I also love the Eskimo Legend and I will share it. Thank you for this lovely post.

    1. Thanks. Heโ€™s the real genius on the pet therapy visits. I just get him there. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. You are Sam are beautiful peeps. That’s all I can say. I felt all warm and mushy inside knowing how much joy you’ve brought to people needing a moment of undivided, loving attention.

  9. Thank you Sam for bringing a smile to others when they need it most.
    Happy Easter!

    1. It happens, my mom flunked out a couple years ago and is still with us. She told the doctor she wasn’t finished even though they removed a substantial segment of her colon. We call her a semi-colon now. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  10. I love this. Your sentence, about just smiling because you didn’t know what to say was important. If only most people did that, it would improve life. Just smile, and be there, nothing can be said a lot of the time. You are also comforting to people. Sam wouldn’t be there without you, you’re a team.LeeAnna

    1. Thank you. Americans in general have a difficult time talking about death and dying. No one wants to be the subject, much less the commentator about it. A smile or a warm hug often fills in the blanks we cannot talk about. Thankfully, I think it works out well enough. ๐Ÿ˜

  11. Sam is wonderful and so are you. What you both do is not easy. Watching those in pain/recovery is hard enough, but end of life is very difficult. Thank you for what you and Sam do.

    Have a blessed Thankful Thursday, my friend. Big hug to you and lots of scritches to Sam. โ™ฅ

    1. Sam is most grateful for the scritches but wonders why no treats. Silly knucklehead! Hugs & tail wags (( ))

  12. Sam is such a special soul, and I love how he just knows. Proof that communication is not always about words. Sometimes it’s way more important than that.

    I love that quote, it fits perfectly with this story.

    Peace, love and hugs to both of you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks, that plaque hangs in the hospice chapel; I read nearly every time I’m there and provides such comfort after a particularly impactful visit. โ˜ฎ๏ธ

  13. I always say that if I am in a home, hospice or whatever, I want to have animals around. My brother-in-law is in a memory center at an assisted living place. They have a huge bird house with over a dozen finches in the lobby along with comfortable seating. It’s so great to watch them and decompress at the end of a visit. Puppy eyes (and it doesn’t matter how old they are, they still have puppy eyes) are healing. Kudos to you for doing such a great job of chauffeuring! Sam’s a natural.

    1. He really is a natural and thank heavens an extrovert! Yes, animals do make such a difference for us mere humans. Oh to be more like them! ๐Ÿ˜

  14. I almost teared up just reading this post. I’m sitting across from the tv as hubby watches the news – the conversations pre-infamous AG press conference – and reading your post lifted my spirits.

    1. So happy you found something uplifting. These days uplifting can be difficult to find in this crazy world. Sam sends tail wags to you and Ducky. Hugs.

            1. He probably wouldn’t know what to do with your generous offer. He lives with a vegetarian you know! ๐Ÿ˜‚

    1. Many thanks, Colin. I’ve said it before and it’s even more appropo here, Sam does all the work, I just drive. He’s such a silly dog but one who is able to touch people in ways I can’t imagine.

  15. Sam your are amazing and a wonder on 4 legs…. we like that eskimo legend a lot… and we are so happy that you brought some smiles to people who have to spend easter alone and not with their families…

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