Ja’nel J. had one Standard Poodle, Ebony, but thought she needed another Standard Poodle playmate, so she began contacting breeders. Baron joined the family a short time later. Ebony is five years old; Baron is four.
Hospital visits appeal to Ja’nel and she and Baron volunteer at Meriter, St. Mary’s, and UW Hospital.
Baron, my standard-size poodle, and I go to St Mary’s each week. One of the floors we always stop at is the Cardiac floor. There was a gentleman there who it was hard to tell how old, but probably in his 50’s. Because of the type of Down’s Syndrome he had, he wasn’t able to speak. When Baron and I walked in the room, he got very excited and squeaked with delight. Baron walked right over to him and laid his head in the gentleman’s lap. The man was so happy he had tears in his eyes, which made me tear up. It was a rewarding visit and brought home to me how wonderful it is to be a therapy dog team. October is Down’s Syndrome Awareness Month. A truly rewarding experience for us and I’m sure for the patient as well.
Making a Difference at St. Mary’s
We often wonder if our visits to patients really make a difference. Baron and I were at St Mary’s recently. We were walking down the hall and a lady called out, “Oh, there’s Baron. Hi, Baron.” So we walked over to greet her.
She introduced me to her husband and proceeded to tell him and me how much Baron’s visits did for her when she was a patient in the cardiac unit. She said she was frightened of what her life was going to be like, and just to have Baron visit her and sit next to her with his head in her lap relieved so much stress for her. She went on about how important and memorable pet therapy visits are.
I’m have to admit I don’t remember her face, but she sure remembered Baron’s face! And that makes what we do worth it – our visits really do make a difference to the patients.
Visits Benefit Everyone
I have always been a firm believer that staff benefits as much from therapy dog visits as the patients do. Baron and I were at one of the hospitals we visit and, when we got off the elevator, a nurse came around the corner and got down on her hands and knees to hug Baron. She said, “Oh Baron, you have no idea how much I needed to see you today.” I told her to take all the time she needed to be with him.
Baron was such a trooper. All the while the nurse was hugging him, he just rested his head on her shoulder. The nurse told me she was a little overwhelmed that morning because one of her favorite patients passed away the evening before. It really brought home to me how very heartfelt a therapy dog’s visits mean to all staff and patients alike.
Ja’nel J. lives in Fitchburg. For entertainment, other than playing with dogs, she enjoys writing, gardening, reading, and baking.