Dog Therapy: Man’s Best Friend Turns Frowns Upside Down

February 16, 2014 11:31 am

…there was one bright spot, and it came in the form of Sammy.

He was almost thirty years older than me, and one of the most important people in my life, so the news of the brain tumor on his scan was particularly devastating. The diagnostic surgery to determine whether or not it was malignant was supposed to take less than two hours. Six hours later they wheeled Eugene out of surgery, and he was never the same.

Initially, his recovery seemed to be going along fairly well. It wasn’t as quick as I’d expected, but as he reminded, he was no spring chicken so my concern was muted. However, when it became obvious he wasn’t ready to go home after his hospital release and the doctor suggested a rehabilitation facility, my concerns grew.

It wasn’t that I questioned the doctor’s recommendation. It was obvious that he still needed around the clock medical care, but from day one in the rehab center, his depression increased and his appetite, relearning capacity, and health declined at the same rate.

It was one of the saddest times of my life.

However, there was one bright spot, and it came in the form of Sammy, an adorable King Charles Spaniel. Sammy was great with all the patients, but the connection between her and Eugene was instant and obvious to everyone.

I wish I could say that it helped Eugene recover, as animal-assisted therapy has been shown to do with some patients. But what Sammy did do was helped him better cope with his declining health and provided comfort and enjoyment to him.

If you have a loved one with health issues, you might want to ask your doctor about the availability of dog therapy. Perhaps there’s a “Sammy” ready to help.