Archive for November, 2011

So much to be thankful for

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Alex and Baker

Yesterday, a small gesture by a friend and co-worker was a true Thanksgiving moment. I had hoped to take the day off to finish my Thanksgiving dinner preparations, but with several deadlines looming I headed for the office. My mind was full of tasks I needed to complete – items needed from the grocery store, cleaning the house, would the new tablecloth I ordered arrive in time? what time to put the turkey in the oven – and I was already anxious and preoccupied.

On my way to drop Alex and Baker at daycare I stopped at a gas station. A co-worker, Joan, happened to be filling her car at the next pump. We smiled and greeted each other.

As Joan replaced the pump handle, a man standing nearby with a small gas can in hand asked her if she could help him out.

“I don’t have any cash,” Joan responded, opening her car door. I thought it was a polite way of turning down a panhandler. But then Joan reached into her car for her purse, and said, “But I can put it on my card. How much do you need? a couple of dollars?” The man smiled broadly and nodded. As Joan headed towards the cashier, she asked “How ’bout a cup of coffee too?” The man, who was wearing just a thin jacket against the cold, eagerly followed her inside.

I finished filling my gas tank, and fished a few dollars out of my purse. I went inside and quietly handed them to Joan as the man poured a coffee cup. “Thank you,” she whispered.

As I drove away I had tears in my eyes.

Later, Joan stopped by my office. “I got him a banana and a sweet roll and an extra cup of coffee for the road,” she reported. The man was driving to Charlotte, she had learned, where I expect he was joining family for Thanksgiving.

I felt uplifted the rest of the day.

Paws on a Mission – the video

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Our pet therapy program has done a wonderful short video of some of our teams in action.

We shot the video over several days as teams visited Mission Children’s Hospital inpatient and outpatient areas; Mission Hospital oncology patients, surgical patients, waiting rooms; and community agencies including a hospital hospitality house, a rehabilitation facility, and elementary schools. I accompanied the videographer on most of the shoots, and it was an amazing and uplifting experience to view the dogs in action.

Some of the dogs are multi-talented, such as the sheltie (pictured with the adult cancer patient) who competes nationally in dance competitions. To the delight of the patient and all of us, she showed off a few moves in the patient’s room, but we are saving that footage for a future video!

Many of the dogs are rescues. Jelly, the shepherd/husky mix, simply showed up as a stray one day at the Howey’s home off a rural road. Brandi the dalmatian is also a rescue.

Haley, the beautiful golden retriever pictured at the Rathbun Center, passed away just a week after the video shoot. We are so thankful we captured her giving golden smiles and love to the end.

These are just a few of the more than 80 dogs in the program, including my Baker. We are so proud to be a part of Paws on a Mission!

This post is part of the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop, hosted by Two Little Cavaliers, where you’ll find links to many other pet blogs. Enjoy!

Everyone Speaks “Dog”

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Last week Baker and I were assigned to visit the hospital’s Neuro-trauma ICU waiting room, where families with loved ones who¬† have suffered a stroke, or been in a car accident, or have a life-threatening condition requiring intensive care pass the hours until they are allowed a few moments at bedside. The room is furnished with small groupings of chairs and couches so families¬† have some privacy as they wait. Most of them sit quietly, gazing at the TV or reading magazines, alone with their thoughts.

It’s hard to know what to say to greet people. Most are surprised to see a dog come into the waiting room, so I begin by explaining that Baker is a therapy dog who is there to visit them if they would like. I’m learning that Baker knows by their smell whether or not they are “dog people” and want to be approached. He’s not shy about sniffing shoes and pant legs as they pat his head.

But it’s not about me making conversation, it’s about Baker making a connection and for a few moments, helping them to forget why they are really there. (more…)