Friday, June 3, 2011
It's likely pretty clear by now how much I love dogs. So, I could not help but be taken by this story (click here) from The Criterion, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. I ran across it while reading the piece about Br. Mauritius. It describes the very real therapeutic benefit provided by "ministry dogs" at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. Sometimes Four-Pawed Presence can make all the difference in the world.
The story reminds me of the dogs kept at a hospice facility in northwest Ohio, which I visited several times while a good friend of mine was dying of cancer about 10 years ago. At that time, the facility had two trained dogs that simply came and went as they pleased into all the patients' rooms to provide comfort or consolation. It was wonderful to watch--like canine spiritual directors on their appointed rounds!
The dogs were able to sense which patients and families were receptive to their presence and which ones were not, and they respected those unspoken boundaries. They were very quiet and dutiful, yet cheerful and calming. Yes, they were trained, but all that was also part of their disposition. Just good companions when simple presence is all that is needed or desired.
I know for a fact that those dogs provided a great deal of soothing relief and joy for a good number of people in need of it, and in a way that human beings are sometimes not able to do while under stress.
They aren't called man's best friend for nothing!