View Full Version : Dog Who Heal

12-16-2000, 02:42 PM
I just read an article that touched me. I'ts about the benefits of pet ownership and how pets are being used for therapy. In 1998 my daughter Kelsey, who was 9 at the time, was in a horrible accident. She had 3rd degree burns on 19% of the lower half of her body. I cannot begin to tell you of the pain she suffered with the surgeries, skin grafts, the daily scrubbings. She stopped eating, which is exteremly dangerous since burn victims have to replace fluids lost through injuries. She was supposed to consume at leat 3000 calories a day. We ordered pizzas (her favorite), ice cream, chips, all the junk food a child could want and she would not touch it. Finally, a tube was inserted to force feed her. She would get angry and frustrated and pull the tube out. Sometimes she would pull it out 2 or 3 times a day. One day a nurse told me about a program the hospital ran where people would bring there pets to visit patients. I of course agreed to a visit. The next day the most beautiful, gentle little black poodle walked thorugh those doors. Kelsey was a little hesitant at first. The dog just sat next to her bed. Then she reached out with her hand and the poodle stood with his front paws on the bed. After a little while Kelsey said "you wanna come up here?" The dog then climb into bed with her and lay there as she petted him and talked to him. That day he stayed for about an hour, then his owners would bring him by a couple of times a week. Oh how my baby would look forward to those dates. A change came over her. She started eating, she would laugh and tell silly jokes. She would even get into her wheel chair and go play with the toddlers who were on her ward. I give praise to her nurses and doctors, but I know that poodle (I wish I remembered his name) had a profound impact on her recovery. I would love to get my pug Bandit in a program such as this, he's a very calm dog and loves nothing better than to be cuddled. Jeffrey is a little too hyper. Does anyone here participate in programs such as this, or does anyone know of a similar experience?
Here's the web address of the article.

[This message has been edited by Genia (edited December 16, 2000).]

12-16-2000, 04:22 PM
First of all Genia I want to commend you on your bravery for going through all of this with your daughter. As moms we hurt so much when our kids are hurting. That must have been awful for you, not to mention for Kelsey. I am so glad that little poodle was able to make a difference. http://PetoftheDay.com/talk/smile.gif

My church has a program called PAWS (Pets Are Working Saints). They visit nursing homes and bring some cheer to the elderly. Some of these people have no visitors (relatives long deceased) and most of them can remember a canine friend from years past and respond very well to them. At the present time I don't have a dog (all of my babies are at the Rainbow Bridge.....poodles, by the way) so I don't have any first hand knowledge. I only have cats now and don't believe any cats are enrolled in this program. I think that Bandit sounds like a good candidate for such a task. If you are still in the same area as you were when Kelsey was hospitalized you might start there and see how to get Bandit involved. I really do think that pets are angels in little furry bodies and are here to help us humans out more than we know. http://PetoftheDay.com/talk/smile.gif

12-16-2000, 04:51 PM
I am shivering and crying, thinking of all your daughter, you and your family went through after that terrible accident. My daughter is the same age as yours was at the time of her accident.
I am not involved in any kind of pet therapy in my area, but I know it is effective. I can remember one Christmas that we had ice and cold, I felt I couldn't leave my cat and hamster at home (just in case the power went out). So off we all went, dog, hamster, cat, to my parent's house for Christmas. My grandmother (who passed away last week at 95)came from the nursing home to have lunch. I put Rusty, the hamster, in her hands and she smiled as big as she had in months. In her younger days, he would have scared her to death. Just that little sign of excitement and happiness let me know how effective pets of any kind can be to those who are hospitalized or elderly.
I hope you can work it out to use your dog in a similar program.
Good luck and keep us posted.

Pam, I forgot to say congratulations to you and your congregation for a wonderful gift you are giving to your community. We should all learn from it.

[This message has been edited by lhg0962 (edited December 16, 2000).]

12-16-2000, 05:06 PM
Genia. The bravery both you and your daughter summoned up during that most testing time is incredible. I am a nurse who has worked often with burn patients and I instantly knew the courage it took for you and your daughter to fight and win the daily battles you were faced with. My heart and prayers go out to you both. Hopes that your emotional as well as physical scars have healed. It is incredible how, when all else fails, an animal can touch our hearts and our souls and propel us to perservere when nothing else will. Somehow the love and friendship they offer is so, well, without expectation. Totally selfless and so pure. I believe that those who have "given up," despite the pleadings of those who love them and who THEY love, respond to these special creatures because they are not EXPECTED to give anything in return. It is a truly remarkable phenomenon. I am so happy that such a creature was sent to intervene in your lives and help you heal. Truly an angel from heaven. I have checked out many sites on the web dealing with therapy dogs. One excellent one with many helpful links is www.therapydogs.com (http://www.therapydogs.com) I wish you all the best. And as they say, one of the best ways to say thank you and show your gratitude, is to do a good deed for someone else. What a wonderful, special and loving thought to pass along the love with Bandit. I hope you have a very HEALTHY and Happy Christmas.

12-16-2000, 06:03 PM
Pam, Kelsey was taken to a hospital out of the local area, as the local hospital was not equipped to handle such serious burns. I could maybe go there for weekend trips but I think I'm going to get with my vet and try to start something locally. The nursing home sounds like a good idea also.

Thank you all for your kind comments. I don't consider myself brave, my daughter yes. Me? I functioned out of love, adrenaline and sheer terror. Kelsey is doing great. By summer 2000 she was back to softball, roller blades and swimming (her fave).

12-16-2000, 06:19 PM
What a heart wrenching situation for you to have lived through Genia. I had to hold back the tears to be able to read it. Thank you for sharing it with us. I know that even telling the story has to bring back some of the pain that you and Kelsey endured. I know that Sophie's Daddy has been involved in taking Sophie to visit in nursing homes. Maybe he can provide some input.

Tats is right, it is wonderful for you who has seen first hand the results of such a program to "pass it forward". This is a real Christmas story.

I am delighted to know Kelsey has recovered and living life to the fullest. Yeah Kelsey.

12-16-2000, 07:41 PM
What a beautiful story.
I, with everyone else am sitting here
with a box of kleenix.
I am so glad Kelsey has recovered.
I have heard such wonderful stories,
about Therapy dogs.
The Convalesent home, near my work just
started allowing a Therapy dog
to visit the elderly.
Just amazing what animals can do for us humans.

12-16-2000, 10:25 PM
How heartbreaking to have to go through that, Genia. I can't imagine. I am not yet a mother but I am maternal and my mommie insctint is strong, and that breaks my heart. You ARE strong, and you are brave. Your little girl is amazing.

As for therapy dogs, yes it sure does amazing things for people. Even the non animal lovers know that animals touch patients in a way that friends, family members, nurses or doctors can not. They are very healing. And it's amazing the way animals seem to know then they are needed to provide healing to people. I have done some therapy work with Graham and he's very sensetive to the people. He knows he has a job to do. That's how all the therapy dogs I have delt with behave. They behave like they know why they are there, and they seem to know who needs them the most, and they seem to know when it's time to move onto the next patient. It's truly beautiful.