To me, they’re my boys…
Yet some call them healers…
I had never thought of them that way – until I was approached by a local photographer named Alice Keeney.
Alice was one of three Southern artists, commissioned to provide photographs for a City Gallery Exhibition titled –
Prototype for a LandscapeCharleston City Gallery
The exhibit was to shine a light on the unspoken connections that hold our communities together through portraits of healers, celestial constellations, and molecular forces.
I graciously accepted to be a part of the exhibit.
It was an honor to receive the invitation to participate. I was humbled, yet proud to know the Boys were considered healers in the community. For Alice to chose the word – healers – to describe how she saw them moved me beyond any coherent response.
Many thoughts ran through my mind as we posed, played, and laughed through the photoshoot…
While Alice asked more questions about what the Boys do at the hospital, I shared all I could during the hour-long session.
AS I BEGAN TO TALK
about therapy dogs in general, I realized how many endearing labels they actually have.
I felt my heart swelling with adoration as I shared stories about Harley…
He has been the conduit between pediatric patients and their parents for years. I cannot begin to count the many times he rode on a gurney into the OR pre-op stations. Harley remained content allowing dozens of children to play with his tail, pre-occupied and entertained by his soft ears while nurses prepped IVs and sedation medication…
I watched mothers (and sometimes fathers) hug him gently and sob softly in his neck as I reassured them that their son/daughter did well. They listened intently as I described how fast their child drifted to sleep without fear… #hesacomforter
Harley has sat on many infusion patient laps reclined in a chair. Harley will snuggle up in their blanket while they talk on the phone to a friend, family member, or colleague telling tales of how the therapy dog’s back again today! #hesafriend
THEN THERE’S JAXSON
whose talents differ from those of his brother. Perhaps because of his size or Spicoli-type personality, he excels in a more active canine therapeutic role. Known on certain orthopedic floors as –
the one to get the job done!
I marvel at how he’s able to both motivate and relax a patient effortlessly #mustbetheface…
Pure joy radiates the face of an elderly patient learning how to live with the constant tremors of Parkinson’s disease. Jax wears a customized service vest covered with buttons snaps and strings. Each week he learns how to improve his motor skills to help him dress independently every day…
At the end of every session, he and Jax hug to celebrate his improvement. #hesasupporter
SOME CALL THEM HEALERS
because of how trained therapy dogs (or other animals) help people recover from or better cope with health problems, such as heart disease, cancer, and mental health disorders.
I’d learned the photography pieces in this exhibit were meant to evoke a sense of community during one of the most difficult months of our lifetime – COVID 19 – and demonstrate –
that there is much more to a landscape when we consider the connections beyond the surface.
– As I reflected back on just a fraction of what I’d witnessed, I had no problem putting on paper my take on Harley & Jaxson …as #healers.
I wrote –
As working therapy dogs, our routine at the hospital abruptly stopped due to a pandemic furlough. I slowly began to realize how much my husband and I relied on them as personal therapists. They were there to ease our adjustment into the forced, restructured, mundane lifestyle we were defining as our new normal. Therapy animals are masters at deciphering a human’s emotional confusion. Gifted with empathy, they can detect sadness, fear, and loneliness. After experiencing more than 20 weeks of our own canine therapeutic intervention, I now have a better understanding of the magical power and importance therapy dogs provide as part of a humans healing process. This valuable life lesson has not only electrified me with ideas on how to enhance an already robust and successful program – therapy dogs have made me realize – through them – healing others is very much a part of my life.
THIS IS THE PHOTO
Alice chose to hang in the Charleston City Gallery along with my words…
It was a privilege! #theyareallthat
When the world around me is going crazy, & I’m losing faith in humanity, I just have to take one look at my dog to know that good still exists ❤️