Moving stories of what our teams experienced during patient visits:
calming...The mother of a patient going in for her fourth surgery said her daughter had never been as calm as she was after petting Daisy.
smiling...A man who had a stroke lay quietly in bed with his eyes closed. His daughter put his hand gently on Raider’s head and helped the man stroke the dog’s ear. The corner of the man’s mouth slowly moved into a smile, to the shock and surprise of his family.
speaking...The woman lay in bed, staring into space. Zombie and Karen came in for a visit. The woman’s hand was placed on Zombie so she could feel his fur. Karen spoke to the woman, telling her about Zombie. The woman quietly said, “Good dog.” The nurse watching the interaction said that was the first time she heard the patient speak.
more smiling...From a nurse in the cardiology unit:
“Thank you so much for helping us set up a time for him to see the dog; he was still raving about it this morning when I came in!! Most of us have never seen him smile, and from what I heard, he was grinning ear to ear this weekend! Thank you all for being so helpful and therapeutic! Patients like him really benefit from these meetings.
socializing...We visit in the dayrooms of the psych units. Sometimes people are quietly sitting in the corner. They begin to interact with the visiting dog, start conversing with the handler, which leads to talking with other patients, and pretty soon they are having a nice, sociable visit. One time the patient came into the dayroom crying, but at the end of our 30-minute visit, she was laughing and sharing stories about her dog. The staff said the turn-around was amazing.
dinner delay...During a psych unit dayroom visit, Bella and Jeff met a young patient who just wanted to watch the dog. (“I don’t like dogs because they bite.”) But it didn’t take long for Bella to charm the young man who so enjoyed petting Bella that he delayed going to dinner just so he could spend more time with her.
relating...A little boy who had his tonsils removed refused to drink anything. Although he was eating solid food fine, he couldn’t be discharged until he drank liquids. Buddy the dog demonstrated how he drinks water from a bowl. The handler asked the little boy to show Buddy how he drinks. The little boy had some sips of water from a spoon, and then showed Buddy how he uses a straw. Success!
motivating...Gina and Daisy visited a couple of veterans in the dayroom of the VA Hospital. One man had not eaten or been out of this room for two days, but, so he could see the dog, he got up, showered, brushed his teeth, and made his way to the dayroom for a long visit.
This is why we do this!
Karen & Pete