Four-legged therapy provides comfort to Edward patients. Read more.
Naperville Sun/Tim West's Naperville Talk column:
Four-legged therapy provides comfort to Edward patients
August 29, 2010
You can go home again -- and sometimes when you do, there will be a dog to greet you.
At least that's what occurs when I pay a visit to Edward Hospital, and most recently my home away from home, the Edward Cancer Center.
The cancer center is where I spent many months earlier this year undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer that had started out in my colon and spread to my liver.
The chemo had as bookends a colon resection at Edward and liver surgery at Loyola University Medical Center.
It was a long and rocky road on the journey of life, but the caring staff at Edward made it as easy on me as they could.
The facilities at the cancer center are about as bright and cheerful as can be for a place where they have to attach you to an IV and drip chemicals into your body for hours on end.
For me, one of the bright spots both at Edward's hospital and its cancer center were the periodic visits from the dogs and their owners in the hospital's animal therapy program.
In that program, dogs (and the owners) are trained to visit hospital patients who indicate they would like to participate.
I like animals anyhow, and when you are in the hospital, the prospect of having a visitor that is not going to stick you with a needle is a plus.
I've been booked into Edward often enough that I've had lots of visits from the therapy pooches.
They're always fun to have come into your room, but my favorite over the past couple of years has been Lumpi, a long-haired dachshund that comes around with her owner, Barbara.
When I've been in the hospital or the cancer center, being cheered up is an important part of the day, and spending a few minutes with Lumpi or one of the other dogs usually does the trick.
One way I can tell that I've been spending a lot of time at Edward is by referencing the calling card collection I have built up that features the dogs.
In addition to seeing Lumpi several times, my time at Edward in the last year or two has given me the opportunity to collect cards from Bismarck, Pudders, Elmo, Little Pretty, Elsa, Walnut, Cody and Camden.
Obviously, Edward really goes to the dogs when I am around.
The latest was last week when I went to the cancer center for a blood test and a visit with my oncologist and got to see Muskie, an Australian Labradoodle, and his owner, Jean.
For those of you unfamiliar with the world of dog breeds, a Labradoodle is just what you think it might be -- a cross breeding between a poodle and a Labrador retriever.
The back of Muskie's card says Labradoodles have been bred to be therapy dogs. They are characterized as "confident, joyful, vivacious, clown-like, sociable, friendly, totally non-aggressive, clever and extremely intuitive."
Since one of the ideas behind the animal therapy program is that the dogs can calm down apprehensive patients, it's too bad I didn't get to meet Muskie before I had my blood pressure taken rather than after.
I might have had a more favorable reading.
Naperville, Illinois (IL) - Edward Hospital and Health Services