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Brady and the Cancer Center

by Kathryn Rowland
reprinted from NewfTide 1Q 2009

 

As Newfoundland owners, we all know the limitless joy and comfort they bring to our lives. In fact, research shows that visiting with animals can help people with depression, reduce stress-induced symptoms, provide a distraction from pain and illness, and help people feel safe and unconditionally accepted. For these reasons, I have been bringing my Newfoundland, Brady (Breakwater’s It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere, CD, RN, CGC, TDI), to visit cancer centers, since he received his Therapy Dog International designation in Brady with the staff at the Great Lakes Cancer Management Center.

Therapy dogs help relieve stress for employees as well as patients. A picture of Brady and the staff of the Great Lakes Cancer Management Center hangs on the wall of the center, located in Utica, Michigan. I have been told that the patients ask on a regular basis when Brady will be visiting again. In an effort to ensure the patient’s comfort with a large dog, a framed picture of Brady is placed in the waiting room, as well as the infusion room, letting the patients and their families know that he is visiting; patients and their families can let a staff member know if they would like to meet him. By doing this, it is the patient’s decision to have Brady come to see them.

Newfoundland Therapy Dog

 

Brady with the staff at the Great Lakes Cancer Management Center. Therapy dogs help relieve stress for employees as well as patients.

Newfoundland Therapy Dog

It’s hard to resist putting your hands on a Newfoundland therapy dog and Brady is no exception.

Dawn Roxborough, Nurse Practitioner at the center, commented that having Brady visit the office is therapeutic to the patients by relieving the anxieties of receiving chemotherapy, whether it is their first visit or after many years of treatments. She also mentioned that he is therapeutic to the staff as well by providing relief from the nature of the practice. While some patients get better, there are some patients that get worse, have their cancer reoccur, or die. During one of our visits, a patient, who was receiving chemotherapy, told me that it takes a lot of courage for her to come in to get treatments but having Brady there to pet allows her to calm down and relax.

 

The first time I brought Brady for a therapy visit, we werecalled into a patient’s room to meet a patient and her husband. They mentioned that they were “dogless” at the time and would love to have a Newfoundland, but they were so big! It just so happened that NCA Rescue had a sweet small little girl, EllieMae, that needed a home. The couple completed the application, I took Ellie Mae out to visit their home, and they adopted Ellie Mae shortly thereafter. As a NCA Rescue volunteer, Ellie Mae was the first rescue that I picked up, and she was also the first adoption that I had completed. Sadly, the patient passed away this past September from colon cancer. Ellie Mae continues to live with the husband helping him through this difficult time.

Every visit with Brady to see a patient is a fulfilling experience. With every visit I get the same questions we are all familiar with—“How much does he weigh?” “How much does he eat?” Every visit makes me realize how lucky I am to own Brady and have the ability to share him with others during their difficult times.

Newfoundland Therapy Dog

reprinted from 1Q NewfTide 2009 pp 11- 21

 

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