The Wonder of Therapy Dogs

by GregP_WN

I don’t know if is a result of the recent dog shows that have been airing or another reason, but I have been thinking about the day of my last surgery and a wonderful therapy dog that I met that day. I had been prepared for the operation, the IV had been inserted, and I was just waiting for my turn when my nurse and another woman entered the room with this dog.

Therapy Dogs

Therapy Dog Ely visiting a patient

At first I was startled because I couldn’t imagine a dog in a room with a patient who was in a somewhat sterile situation, but I figured they knew what they were doing, and I was game. The wonder of that animal immediately took over the room.

Facing surgery is never easy. I remember the very first one and all of the fear and anxiety that comes with not knowing what to expect. Somehow I thought it would get easier with each surgery, but it didn’t. In some ways it actually got a little harder, and I had anticipated that this 5th one would be the same. The moment that dog entered the room and came over to me all the thoughts of the surgery disappeared as I became engaged with the dog and his handler. It was amazing. Even long after they left, the happiness and interaction lingered; I never felt the same overwhelming anxiety before a surgery after I met that dog.

That day made a huge difference for me. I knew about the dogs visiting patients in their hospital rooms and the positive impact that they were having on patient’s recoveries, but I had never considered the possibility that they could be used to relax a patient specifically before surgery. Then again, why not? I distracted myself in the past by watching TV, but that never really worked. I had never been comfortable trying to engage in conversation with those around me, especially when I could see the concern of my husband. When that dog walked into the room I could tell that everyone was affected.

I have not heard of any programs where therapy dogs have been introduced into pre-op situations like this, but I would be the first one to recommend it. I would even support having them in offices of oncologists and treatment centers. I know that they are well-trained, and their presence in patient rooms have made a noticeable difference. I remember what it was like when I heard those words, “You have cancer”, and I don’t care who you are, that is something that is never easy. However, I think perhaps something as simple as easing the atmosphere in a doctor’s office would mean so much for patients; therapy dogs do just this.

There are so many dogs who need homes that could be trained to interact with patients to make them feel more relaxed. Most people can make a connection with dogs; the few patients that may not would not have to participate. Perhaps there are others of you who would support this idea. I would love if we could initiate it on a broader scale. From my perspective, I think that it is a wonderful option for both the dogs and the patients. The dogs would have a purpose, and the patients would feel the relief that the dogs could provide during cancer treatment.

Barbara Jacoby Let Life Happen

Today's Blog Post is from WhatNexter Barbara Jacoby from the Website Barbara is a two time breast cancer survivor and she also lost her Father to lung cancer and Brother to renal cancer. As you might imagine, cancer advocacy and supporting other cancer patients and survivors is a passion of hers. Drop by her profile page and say hi to her.

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