THE OTHER SIDE OF PET THERAPY

By Sunday, November 18, 2018 43 No tags Permalink

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would experience the other side of pet therapy. But as my Nana used to tell me all my life – 

never say never!

THE OTHER SIDE OF PET THERAPY

As the Pet Therapy Program Coordinator for the largest hospital in South Carolina, I’ve felt comfortable with my knowledge and understanding of the benefits a pet therapy visit can bring to a patient.

But after last Wednesday, I can honestly say, I “get it” and trust me – its an entirely different connotation.

UNDERSTANDING PET THERAPY – 

For more than five years I’ve been on the other end of Harley’s leash watching strangers (patients, family members and medical staff) interact with him as if he were their own. 

I understand the benefits of pet therapy, and why it’s offered in so many medical facilities. I believe in its purpose.

Every time I enter a patients room I stand quietly at the side of a hospital bed and observe the instant connection. Rarely do I engage unless I’m asked a question, and seldom is there a need. That’s how powerful interactions between humans and canines can often be.

His presence is comforting. He eradicates loneliness. With the swishing motion of a wagging tail and the ability to cuddle up close, he reminds us of hope and represents all that is “good and right” in the world (if only for a moment) regardless of ones physical severities… 

THE OTHER SIDE OF PET THERAPY

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE –

At least once a week I hop on Maggie – my sky blue beach bicycle – throw my book bag in her white utility basket and pedal the 1.2 miles from my doorstep to the hospital.

It’s a short ride so there’s never any reason to speed – and I get a little cardio in before I start my day. 

Last Wednesday (halfway to my destination) as I crossed the street – a car crashed into the right side of “Maggie and me” sending me in the air like a kitchen trash bag headed for the dumpster. 

I landed on my left side in the middle of the street, kissing a manhole.

I am blessed beyond measure to have no broken bones. Just bruised and 50 shades of purple on my left side, but that will heal.

Due to the fact that a car hit a bicycle, Ashley Avenue looked like a scene out of Chicago Fire with police cars, EMT’s and a firetruck. #wheresmattcasey 

Whisked away in the ambulance to my place of employment – I was conscience the entire time and well aware of my surroundings. 

Doodle Dad was there in a flash, and as we waited in the ER together for the results of my x-rays – the gravity of what happened started to take on a life of its own. I realized the severity of it all and it scared me.

 

 I “GET” THE POWER –

A faint subtle knock on the door caught my ear and caused me to look as it slowly opened.

There standing in the doorway was a therapy dog!…

THE OTHER SIDE OF PET THERAPY

As soon as I laid eyes on Rags (abbreviation for Ragamuffin), I felt an immediate sense of calmness.

It didn’t matter that I knew Rags, because of my role as Pet Therapy Program Coordinator. I was like any other patient trying desperately to cope and comprehend a significant emotional experience without losing it completely. 

Rags plugged the dam of tears from over flowing. She diverted the fear of my reality from taking complete control. 

I “get” the power of pet therapy in a way like never before. My stay was all of 60 minutes or so, not days. My diagnosis was neither grave nor terminal, and my prognosis was excellent.

But my fear was still real, and the comfort this dog gave exceeded anything a family member could have done for me at that particular time. #keepingitreal

VALUE IN THE VALLEY – 

I am a firm believer that we can ALWAYS find value in the valleys of our lives. We can dwell on/in the valley should we choose, or we can strive to crawl out, and look around at how our experience (no matter how grim) has changed us for the better. 

It will be impossible for me to view pet therapy in the same manner as I did prior to Wednesday. #cant #wont #ever My focus is sharper, my energy is stronger, my understanding is now personal. I “get” it.

MAGGIE AND ME –

In the event you were wondering, Maggie also survived the crash…

THE OTHER SIDE OF PET THERAPY

She will need a new basket, and some TLC on a few sections of her frame, but she’s a road warrior. We will be back out there but more like later than sooner.

I’m resting and getting all the pet therapy one person could ask for. Harley is the bed warmer. He cuddles up around my feet, sticking to me like Gorilla Glue.

Jaxson is more of an “in your face” kind of therapy dog. And I mean that literally…

THE OTHER SIDE OF PET THERAPYBlessed I tell you, that’s me!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday –

Hug your pups, love your family and be thankful and grateful for every single moment you are not kissing a manhole!

43 Comments
  • Capt James Merryman
    November 18, 2018

    Kathy, that’s why I have being doing “ pet therapy “ for over 8 years. I have seen many smiles from our visits to old and young alike which keeps me coming back for more and more. So glad that you were not seriously hurt. You have been such a blessing to the Therapy Dog Program.

    Jim & Rags

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      Capt. Jim, don’t ever tell Harley & Jaxson but Rags is my SHERO 🙂 She came at just the right time! The reality of what happened was settling in and I was trying so hard not to cry. I am forever grateful to both of you for all that you’ve done for people in the past, what you did for me, and what you continue to do for so many. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  • LaVerne Bennett
    November 18, 2018

    Quite an interesting story. Thank God you were able to walk away with only a few bruises. Happy to know that Maggie is okay. We serve an awesome God and he will always be our guide. Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      Yes Verne – Thank God indeed….

  • Corina A Henriques
    November 18, 2018

    I have always watched and truly enjoyed from the side and never have commented but I must….i am so glad you are ok. You bring so much joy with your heart and your writing and sharing your doods. Praying for a speedy recovery and thanking God for you and yours! Love bacon

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      Hello Corina, you made my heart smile with this comment. Thank you so much – you will never know how your words mean to me. I wanted to share with everyone because of the happy ending and how much I now “get” pet therapy. I will be okay, so please don’t worry. I am bruised up pretty bad, but I will heal in time and I’ve got two great therapy dogs “in house” with me to help with my recovery. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and appreciate each and every minute of it – no matter what you do….

  • Dashlilly
    November 18, 2018

    Oh no! That must have been so frightening. So much to be grateful for! I have had no experience with therapy dogs from either side— but it all sounds wonderful!! Glad you’re ok. Take care of yourself!

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      Dierdre I wasn’t scared until much later that night. I think once the adrenaline subsided the reality of everything that could have happened started to sink in. I will heal with time but I will probably never forget….

  • Pat
    November 18, 2018

    Cathy it must have been terrifying for you during that time waiting to hear that everything was going to be ok. I know you will look at what your boys do as so very special along with all of the therapy dogs out there. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      Pat, I was a tad concerned about my ribs because of the discomfort on my left side when I inhaled, but I knew at that point whatever was wrong, it was fixable… I was however, grateful to find out that my ribs weren’t broken, just bruised. The Boys have been extra gentle with me, and they are always right behind me. Enjoy your holiday, this year will be very special for me – that’s for sure.

  • Alessandra and Pedro
    November 18, 2018

    Oh Cathy! The title of this emtry gave me an immediate trepidation and I found myself closing my eyes tight as I read of your “flight” that landed you so close to the manhole! You’re a good writer! But I was so relieved to realize that you were writing from a good place, having overcome the accident with mild injuries and with immediate pet therapy from Rags and your very own pawsonal M.D.s (Marvellous Doodles). Please tsle care, recover fully and quickly! We send you hugs and loving paws!

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      Hello friend – I tried to write from a place that explained what happened, mixed with just the right amount of calm and pinch of humor (trash bag statement) to let you all know that I was indeed okay. I am still very sore and will have to take it easy for a while until I am completely healed, but I am doing fine. Have a wonderful holiday and give Pedro a huge hug from me please….

  • Shiraz
    November 18, 2018

    So glad you’re ok. Having a therapy dog I’m amazed at the impact my dog has.in just spending a few minutes with a “stranger “.
    Love these visits

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      Isn’t it amazing? I was always surprised with how fast a relationship can occur with a dog (in and out of a hospital) they are incredible creatures. It’s always a wonderful experience for me….

  • CLAUDETTE E POPE
    November 18, 2018

    Oh my Gosh Cathy. My heart was beating so fast just reading the part of you being Struck by a vehicle. Please rest yourself & allow Doodle Dad and the boys to take total care of you. Take care my Friend and I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with Food, Fun, and Fanily ❤

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      Hey Claudette – MY heart was beating fast when it happened! I am still quite sore and taking it easy as I heal. I’m bruised and that takes time, so I do what I can and I stop when I can’t any longer. Thanksgiving will be filled with Thanks here in Doodleville. Like Randi Manderson always says – “It could have gone the other way…” I am grateful to God for blessing me again,,, Happy Holidays!

  • Scottie
    November 18, 2018

    Hey There,

    Prayers for quick recovery, Praises for the Hedge of Protection around you and Pace yourself during your (total) recovery!!! ❣️

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      Hello Scottie – Thanks so much – I am truly blessed AND highly favored. He didn’t have to do it – but won’t He do it??? Happy Thanksgiving…

  • Kristin Clark
    November 18, 2018

    I am so glad to hear you’re safe, my friend!! And that you were/are in the best paws (and hands) ever. Sending you lots of love! So grateful you are OK!

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      My MD’s (Marvelous Doodles) are definitely on it! They will not leave my side at all. We’ve learned how to share the bed, ALL – NIGHT – LONG 🙂 Happy Holidays my friend. Thanks so much for checking in….

  • Lorraine Hall
    November 18, 2018

    Hey Cathy, glad to hear you have been blessed! I pray for a speedy recovery. Take your time and let the doodles be on duty oh yeah and brother Lee, too. VUU4LIFE!

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      Thanks Lorraine for checking in on me, I plan to take it easy and be extra grateful this holiday weekend. Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Dixie
    November 19, 2018

    Cathy, thank you for sharing your experience. So very grateful that you and Maggie survived the crash. This incident is a reminder to be grateful and to enjoy today. God is good.

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      Dixie/Trixie Doolittle – how are you? I will heal, just need more time. I was supposed to be in your area last week, I should have gone after all. Hope the family is doing well, we must plan a time to talk and get caught up. I miss you…

  • Renee Dixon
    November 19, 2018

    Praise God from whom all blessings flow! May your healing be swift and your restoration complete. There is no doubt of what your service does for patients. Blessings.

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      You’re singing my song Renee – I praised him from the asphalt that morning. He gently laid me down on that ground allowing my bones to stay in tack and my brain not to split wide open. His Grace and Mercy shined brightly on me that day. Thanks for checking in on me, I will heal, in time. The Boys are wonderful therapists…. Enjoy your holiday,

  • JOANN Stancer
    November 19, 2018

    I am so glad you are ok! This post even know you got hurt was awesome and had me crying at Rags. Pet Therapy is a wonderful thing, thank you for what you do.

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      Hey JoAnn, how are you and the crew doing? I am hanging in there. Taking it one day at a time.
      Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and thanks for checking in on me…

  • Cheryl
    November 19, 2018

    Oh my! I am so glad you are ok! Please rest and let Doodle Dad, with the help of your personal pet therapists, take care of you! We don’t bounce back like we used to as we age.
    Prayers for a complete and speedy recovery!
    Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      Cheryl – you are “spot on” we don’t heal as quickly as we did when we were younger. I am not trying to rush either. I am taking my time. What I can do, I will. What I can’t – I’m not worrying about it. Have a wonderful holiday.

  • Shadow's & Ducky's Mom
    November 19, 2018

    Oh. My. DoG! Cathy, I’m so grateful you’re okay! What a frightening experience!! And I’m glad you got a taste of the “other side of pet therapy” – as you so aptly named it – so that you can truly appreciate the importance of the work you and the Doodle Boys do from the patient’s perspective. I’m glad, too, that Maggie survived the accident as well! Enjoy the week of being cared for and thank you for all you do.

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      Awwhhh, thank you so much my friend, visiting patients will never be the same again, I will forever be changed each and every time I enter a hospital room. We all have so much to be thankful – this year will be extra special. I intend to spend the morning with Harley as we have been for the last three years. We hang out in the Children’s hospital for a few hours watching the Macy’s Day parade with them. I get to act like a kid oohing at all the floats in an environment where no one cares LOL Happy Thanksgiving girl, thanks for checking in on me…

  • Teresa & Jenny
    November 19, 2018

    I am so happy you are “ok” – – at least no broken bones or concussions! Let the Doodle men take care of you. I hope to be back soon.

    Happy Thanksgiving – – much to be thankful for!

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      Thanks Teresa. like you, I’ve got “in house” therapy care LOL Happy Thanksgiving – hope yours is extra special…

  • Angel Pryror
    November 19, 2018

    I am so glad that you’re ok. When God created you he created a special and kind person. I know God had his Angels over you through this entire ordeal.

    Happy Thanksgiving Cathy! May God continue to protact you.

    Love you always,

    Angel

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      Hi babygirl – thank you so much for your super kind words. This has not been my season, first the flu and then I “flew” (you’ve got to find humor!) I feel extremely blessed because He was most definitely there for me that morning, and He kept me – I miss you, we must find some time to catch up before the year ends. Take care, enjoy your holiday and know I love you….

  • Lindsay
    November 19, 2018

    Oh my gosh, Cathy, I’m so glad that you’re alright. You are one lucky lady, you know that? It could have been much, much worse. Jesus Murphy. 🙁

    Sending you lots of love and hugs. The bruising may take awhile….hang in there sweetie.

    XOXOXO

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      Hello my friend – The bruising is going to take a minute. I am not trying to rush – Thanks for checking in on me, XOXO back at you – Happy holidays….

  • Romelle
    November 19, 2018

    Girrrl,
    Take care of yourself, I may, might want to see you at the next homecoming.

    On another topic, isn’t wonderful when you REALLY get “it .” The purpose, the reason, the why you do what you do.
    Consider yourself blessed.

    • Cathy Bennett
      November 19, 2018

      Girl, I WANT to be at the next homecoming LOL Yes, it is amazing when you get the privilege to know your purpose. Love it! Take care my friend – thanks for checking in…

  • Monika & Sam
    November 20, 2018

    So sorry for your accident but glad you and “Maggie” survived. Enjoy all that snuggling and cuddling with the local therapists. Be well and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Jan K
    November 21, 2018

    I am so relieved you are OK, Cathy! I’ve known some people in bicycle accidents who fared much worse, with lots of broken bones and months of recovery time. I hope by now you are healing well and feeling much better.
    I recently spent a few hours in the ER with my sister, who had a heart scare (she is OK). Having a dog come to the door would have been a blessing for both of us! I don’t even know if our hospital has a program.

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