Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Meet Baxter!

Mom picked this book up from the library yesterday and it's already making her cry. She's going to read it to me but I don't think I will cry. At least, I hope not.

Isn't Baxter cute? He's a therapy dog that visits hospice patients and this book is about his adventures in that role. He's also a rescue dog and the book talks about how he got into the therapy business and how he got certified through Therapy Dogs International. Mom grabbed this book as soon as she saw it because it reminded her of the days when I was a therapy dog.

Baxter become a therapy dog when he was 14 years old. I became one before I was a year old. I didn't visit hospice patients but visited residents in a nursing/ rehabilitation facility. Some of the residents were only in the facility for a short time but some of them lived there for a long time.

I was part of therapy group that visited the same facility every month. Our group consisted of a Great Pyrenees, two Yorkies, a Beagle, a Cairn Terrier, two Old English Sheepdogs, and a Cocker Spaniel. There were lots of residents that were afraid of the bigger dogs, but no one was ever afraid of me. Whether I was walking down the hallways, sitting on a lap, visiting residents in the tv room, or laying on a bed, I loved every moment of my therapy work.

There was one resident in particular that I remember quite well. His name was Steven and he was 20 years old. He was in the military and was the designated driver of a car that was hit by a drunk driver. Steven was paralyzed and could only blink his eyes when I first met him, but he made lots of progress and was soon sitting up in bed moving his fingers. He couldn't speak but eventually could use a computer via a special device.

Steven's accident caused such problems for his family that his parents ended up getting divorced. His mother was at the facility every day taking care of him. She was completely dedicated to him and his care. She was an amazing woman.

I visited Steven every time I was at the facility. The nurses would always tell me that Steven was waiting for me and I would walk into his room and Mom would put me on his bed. Even when Steven couldn't pet me I would just sit on his bed and visit with him. I think I made him feel good just by being there.

Steve had progressed to the point where the facility had done all they could for him, so he was going to be moved to another facility far away. The last night I visited him Mom put me on his bed as usual. By this time, Steven could move his fingers and pet me. He pet and pet me as Mom talked to him and told him that she was going to miss him. When it was time to leave Steven's room he wouldn't let me go. He kept shaking his head and holding on to me because he didn't want me to leave. Mom had tears in her eyes because she felt Steven's pain. He was so comforted by me and he didn't know what the future held for him.

Steven finally let me go and we said our last goodbyes as we walked out of his room. Mom was crying by then and I was walking just a little slower than usual. Steven needed us and we would never see him again. I think about Steven a lot and I hope that he is doing okay.

Mom doesn't have any pictures of me doing therapy work, but this book is full of pictures Baxter visiting his patients. Pictures that tell the story of an extraordinary therapy dog and the joy he brought into the lives of those he touched. His story is told in a collection of moments, 36 of them in all. I love how each chapter is a moment because that's how life is measured, in moments.

I can't wait to hear Baxter's story because I know I will love it. I can't promise that I won't cry as Mom reads his story to me. I know that Mom will cry because she knows just how important therapy dogs are to patients in need. I know how important dogs are to everyone they meet because I have touched many lives. I'm just a pug that loves people and loves to be loved in return.

16 comments:

Sequoia & Petunia said...

Awww...so sweet.

Salinger The Pug said...

Stubby Dude! We had NO idea that you were a therapy dog!!!! SO cool!

We loved your story about Steven and know that you probably brought a lot of happiness to a lot of people.

Tell mom to enjoy her sappy book!

Love,
S-Dog

Pearl said...

Stubby, I loved hearing about your time as a therapy dog. I bet you were such a comfort to so many. You obviously had a huge impacton sweet Steven.

I don't want to bring sad news to you and your momma... but one of my bloggie friends recently did a post on Baxter, because he passed away. He truly was a life lived in service to others, and his legacy lives on. You can read the post here:
http://astasworld.blogspot.com/2009/10/saying-goodbye-to-angel-pup.html

Tell your momma not to cry, ok? Baxter would have wanted us to spread the love that he spent his life spreading.

Melissa and Emmitt said...

hi stubby!
you and your mom are so special. you touch the hearts of everyone you meet. Stephen was so lucky to have you.
i know he is thinking of you everyday too.
Connections like the one you two made live forever.

Stubby said...

Hi Sequoia & Petunia! He is so sweet isn't he? Kind of reminds you of someone you know? I'm just saying.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Salinger dude - Yep, I did the therapy thing for a few years. I think you would be an excellent therapy dog because you have such a great attitude.

Mom and I am off to curl up with that sappy book. I hope she brings some Kleenex!

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Pearly Poo! I had no idea that Baxter died. I guess I am a little behind on the news, so thanks for letting me know.

I'm going to check out Asta's blog to see what he had to say about Baxter. It's amazing how one little dog can have such an effect on so many lives.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Melissa & Emmitt! You guys are so special too. We were so lucky to meet Steven and even luckier to be part of his life.

Stubby xoxo

Paula - PAPugMom said...

Stubby;

I am a therapy dog too with TDI. It is awesome getting pats and rubs from visiting people that just love to see us. I have been hanging low lately first with my Mom's surgeries and now having to go to the cardiologist myself. Mom has often thought about checking in with the local hospice for visits.

Bandit

Stubby said...

Hi Bandit! I remember reading about you being a therapy dog with TDI. Maybe now that things are settling down you can get back to work.

Tell your mom to get this book and read it to you because it's so good. You will love it, but it will make your mom cry.

Stubby xoxo

Oakley and Swisher said...

Stubby,buddy that is so cool that you were a therapy dog! Our mom likes to read but we don't think she should read about Baxter she was tearing up just reading your story about Steven.

Lots of Licks--
Oak and Swish

Stubby said...

Hi Oakley & Swisher! The book will definitely make your mom cry so maybe it's better that she doesn't read it. Steven was so special and Mom tears up thinking about him too.

Stubby xoxo

dw said...

Awww, Baxter is indeed sweet! I used to talk to a Canadian online several years ago who ran a farm outside Ottawa and had therapy dogs, therapy geese (I even got to name one!) and other therapy farm animals. Animals can do such good work for us mere humans. They do it all with a smile and ask for nothing in return. :) (well, maybe the occasional snack)

Stubby said...

Hi dw! That's so cool that they had therapy geese. The geese that live in our pond are kind of therapeutic because their presence calms Mom down.

I never asked for anything more than love and a few treats for doing the work I did. I think you should consider doing therapy work when you get your little puggie!

Stubby xoxo

Tweedles -- that's me... said...

Stubby
This is such a beautiful story you have shared with us.
You have touched lives and that love will live on , in the lives you have touched.
What big loving hearts you and your mom have.
Steven will never forget you. You changed his heart forever.
love
tweedles

Stubby said...

Hi Tweedles! Thank you for such a sweet compliment. I loved being a therapy dog and I miss doing it.

Steven was truly special and I think you're right that he will never forget me.

Stubby xoxo