752px-fema_-_10669_-_photograph_by_jocelyn_augustino_taken_on_09-11-2004_in_florida-300x239Consider for a moment how very happy your dog makes you. Their unconditional love on a daily basis is truly one of life’s joys. Now consider how those same wonderful feelings your dog gives you could be a blessing to someone who needs a diversion from the clinical atmosphere and medical routine often accompanying a hospital visit.

Imagine the joy and comfort a furry, friendly face will bring them.

I had the benefit of visits from “therapy dogs” during cancer treatment eleven years ago. While undergoing chemo treatments at MCV I was visited during each session by therapy dogs and their owners. What a wonderful experience for me. My interaction with these visiting dogs helped me to focus on something other than my cancer.

In turn, my blood pressure was lowered, my heart rate fell and I genuinely was happy during the visits.

5584810719_b85d0aee3a_zThe dogs came in all shapes and sizes, were well-behaved, friendly and just a joy to be around. Their owners were the nicest people (but then again, aren’t most dog-owners?). On some visits the dog just sat with his or her head in my lap and we had a private “doggie” conversation. On other visits they might do a trick or just enchant me with their beauty. Their owners always had interesting stories to tell about their dogs or themselves, and both seemed to enjoy their contribution to my well-being. These dogs visited with adults as well as children and, as I said, brought a much needed diversion and a little bit of joy to those of us who wanted to escape the fact that we were in the hospital battling for our lives.

It has been eleven years since my chemo treatments and I am a survivor.

I am grateful that my loving husband was by my side during the ordeal, and I am grateful I had wonderful doctors and nurses.

But I must add that I am also so very grateful to have had that extra special little bit of love and support from the visiting dogs at MCV.

If you’d like to learn more about the Dogs on Call program through VCU/MCV’s Center for Human Animal Interaction please visit their site.