Therapy Dog Sweetly Assures Dying Patient She's Not Alone
There's perhaps no greater comfort than the unwavering affection of a creature whose very instinct is to love. And for JJ the dog, love is part of her life's work.
The sweet pup is a certified therapy dog with Project Canine, a group committed to connecting canines with people who stand to benefit from their soothing presence the most. JJ's specialty involves working with patients in hospice care, helping to guide people through the emotionally trying final stages of life.
"There's something about just having a dog in the room that tends to bring the stress level down," JJ's handler, hospice nurse Tracy Calhoun, told The Dodo.
A video posted to JJ's official Facebook page shows just how tenderly he offers comfort, seen here by simply assuring an ailing blind patient that she is not alone, joining her in bed as she listened to a recording of her favorite poem:
"This woman came to us from the hospital and was actively dying, as many who come to us are. She was one of those people who didn't have family; Some people just don't. But JJ stayed with her," said Calhoun. "You can actually see her moving her fingers to pet JJ's face. That was the first time she had moved all day."
It's hard to overstate the difference therapy dogs like JJ can make in the lives of people who need an extra bit of moral support. In fact, the medical community is beginning to see therapy animals as not merely a nicety, but rather as having observable influence on patients' physical and emotional well-being.