Most of y’all know that I have three therapy dogs. My eldest Borzoi are all CGC/CGCA titled and are therapy dogs. Typically when I go out, I have cards with the organization and my direct number on them if they wish to give me a call for another visit if I’m not planning on being back there for a while. We have a lot of different places we go (from hospitals to hospices, schools, 4-h events, libraries, and more) and while I try to keep everything even, doesn’t always work that way.
I was at home yesterday, dogs were playing outside (or in using the downstairs as a track) when I got a call from a friend who does a lot of teaching of pet safety classes (we also do those and Canine Ambassador things) and she needed another large dog since her planned one had dropped out last minute. Hadn’t expected to head off to do anything like that for the day before the “other job” especially given the word count needed for the day. But, it’s a good thing for us to get out and do this, so I closed out my writing and got ready for what I knew would be a few hour stint with different groups of kids learning about the proper care and way to approach dogs.
I took my Nina who is the oldest and my most solid, doesn’t care if the visit is 15 minutes or we’re there for 7 hours, she’s fine either way. The others are good but she’s the best. So we were there for a little over three hours. As they were getting pictures taken with the children (I don’t take any) I got a call from a father to another person I’d been to visit a few times. A young girl battling cancer, Tracey.
In a shaky voice he asked me if I could come with Opal (who she loved to see) and do a visit this day. Deep down, I knew it wasn’t going to be good news but I told him I would be there as soon as I picked up Opal. Made the switch and headed to hospital where we needed to be.
Opal is the biggest of my girls around 75-80lbs and the child we were visiting is barely at 35lbs given how the cancer has ravaged her body. I’d not seen Tracey in a while and my heart broke in seconds after walking in the door. I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy visit but the chances of me ever seeing her again was maybe 2%.
Dogs know and sense more than most give them credit for. Opal adjusts her energy level to those she’s around and she had never been more gentle than when she lay beside Tracey. I did my best to blend in the background why the small family, with Opal, shared in some of their last moments together. They got some pictures and I hope with all my heart they will help this couple remember their daughter when she’s no longer with us but up with the angels.
Opal was not her usual happy self when we left and I knew she felt the sorrow that had overflowed in the room. Even this morning, she’s sad but she ate and played a bit before coming back to lie beside me.
That visit was emotionally draining to me. I cannot image the pain that a parent must experience knowing you will bury your own child.
So, while I may have been exhausted and hadn’t gotten any writing done (to speak of) being able to help ease what tragedy they were living was worth it. I don’t do as much volunteer work as I should, or could, and I was down for the rest of the day as well, but I will never forget the smile on Tracey’s face when she opened her eyes and found Opal walking toward her. For a brief moment in time there, she was a five year old, not a cancer patient.
I know it seems much of the time we don’t have any extra time to help others but if you do then you understand. It touches you to do this. Not saying you need to get a dog and do therapy work but something. Anything. Help lessen the suffering in any way you can. Small gestures go a long way.
Tracey passed away during the night and has gone home to God. She will be missed but He needed her more.