My Friend Jake and the ICU Waiting Room Visit

The following incident is a report written by Margaret about her dog, Jake.  They are a therapy dog team in Boulder County, Colorado:

Jake

Jake is a 7 year old Rottweiler that thinks he is a lap-dog. He adopted Margaret and her family when he was about 1 year old. Jake was rescued from a situation where he was neglected and hasn’t looked back. He is a loyal and loving dog and totally enjoys getting petted by anyone he meets.

Jake got to visit someone on the cardiac floor at Longmont United Hospital in 2008 and absolutely loved the whole experience. This one small visit to a friend led to Jake becoming a fully registered therapy dog in February 2010.

Jake started visiting at The Bridge Assisted Living and Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center in February and March of 2010. Jake joined the TAILS program at Longmont United Hospital in December. He loves visiting so much that he expanded his opportunities for getting petted and getting treats to Avista Adventist Hospital in early April of 2011.

Jake has had some wonderful experiences at the places he visits and recently had an awesome encounter with a wonderful lady in an Intensive Care Unit waiting room. Normally Jake heads straight for the reception desk where he knows he will get a treat or two – today was much different. As soon as we entered the doorway I saw a group of four ladies surrounded by pillows and blankets. It was obvious that they had been there for a while. Jake usually heads for the closest person but today he made a beeline for the one lady that was the furthest away.  When he does this, I know we are going to have a great visit. As soon as this woman saw us coming she started crying and reached out for Jake. I didn’t need to ask if she wanted a visit, I just stood back and let the scene unfold. This was one of those times when I wish I could become invisible and just let Jake do what he knows he needs to do. At this point, Jake didn’t even acknowledge the three other women, he focused on this one lady and gave her kisses and sat down right in front of her. After a couple minutes when the lady stopped crying and began talking to me, Jake greeted the other three women and then went back and sat down in front of his new friend again. As she kept talking he laid down right at her feet and put his head where she could reach him easily. As she talked and told me the story of how her husband of 17 years was in ICU and in a medically induced coma, I knew why Jake went to her. What started as an asthma attack quickly turned into a life threatening event and her husband might not make it. She went on to tell me about the problems his family is causing and how they are treating her. The whole time she petted Jake’s head and ears. Occasionally she would start to cry and Jake would sit up so she could reach him even better. When she would calm down again, he would lay back down at her feet. I know all three ladies with this woman knew the whole story she was telling to me and Jake, but it was obvious that she needed to talk it out again. Jake and I were honored to be there for her.

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