As my husband, Dan, and I continue our quest to be cancer free, we have experienced therapeutic canine visits from the other end of the leash and can attest to their healing influence.

The first visit took place at Emory Clinic in Atlanta in a very crowded waiting room. I was brought to tears by how sweet it was to get a furry hug during an interminable waiting experience. It was fun to see the dog interact with other patients and we anxiously awaited our turn to pet the dog and talk to his handler.  The last half hour flew by as the therapy dog was there to break up the drudgery of waiting. He also redirected our attention away from the impending and dreaded news we would get from the doctor.

Last month, we were blessed by another canine visit during Dan’s first chemotherapy treatment in Minnesota. If you have never experienced chemo, it might be hard to understand how scary the first treatment can be. Hundreds of preconceived thoughts and worries are invading your mind and watching the drip, drip, drip of the I.V. is like torture. We were in the second hour of the “drip” when Pluto entered the room with his handler. Both Dan and I did a double-take because the dog was a Standard Poodle with a very unusual haircut. Being the owners of our own Standard, we were curious to talk to the handler who turned out to also be Pluto’s groomer and a Pet Partner handler. Again, the time flew by and before we knew it, our session was finished.

Our Oncologist arranges frequent visits from the dogs, so although we have less unknowns to fear these days, it still helps to break up the time and divert our attention to happier things. I can only hope and pray that Louie and I bring as much joy to the patients at Mayo Clinic JAX.

I always tell people that the blessings are all mine when Louie and I make our visits. But after being on the receiving end….the other side of the leash…I know the blessings flow both ways.

Peggy Blount and JAX

Handler Peggy Blount with therapy dog, Louie

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