I joined Akron Children’s Doggie Brigade with the second class, so I have been a member for 19 straight years. During that time, I have brought 7 wonderful dogs to the hospital – 5 Bullmastiffs and 2 Great Danes -all of which have been special in their own way.
Because I bred Bullmastiffs during most of those years, when one dog became too old or, regrettably ill, I always had another dog at home who could pass the test.
The first dog I partnered with was Linda, a huge female who always had a “smile” on her face. She was happiest when anyone was giving her big hugs and squeezes, even hauling her hulking body onto beds where there was room.
On one special occasion, we were called to the pediatric ICU where there was a boy of about 9. He had some sort of condition that had suddenly attacked his muscles, and he couldn’t move. He even had to be fed.
It was hoped a dog could cheer him up. When we approached him, I saw that he was indeed very sad. But Linda just knew where to put that huge head and I put his hand on her head.
Yes, we got a smile, and he even let his mom feed him some soup.
After our visit, Mom followed me out with tears in her eyes, thanking me. I told her I couldn’t take credit, it was all Linda. The secretary on 6100 still talks about her.
I won’t relate anecdotes about all of my dogs, but I must mention Blake, my beautiful Great Dane. Beautiful inside and out, he was gentle as a lamb, even with the other dogs.
At 185 pounds and 37 inches tall at the shoulder, Blake was a show-stopper walking into a room or exiting an elevator. The patients loved to have their pictures taken with him, so I would put him in a “stay” with the patient and stand next to the photographer.
Even at the Holiday Tree Festival, Santa once complained about the competition! He was a true gentleman, and loved coming to the hospital. Unfortunately, he died in December of 2010, leaving his niece, Sabrina, to carry on.
Part of my joy in being in the Doggie Brigade is sharing my dogs with others. I love them so much and feel it would be a shame not to share them. They have a great deal to offer.
And guess what? Clark, my funny, loving Bullmastiff puppy is going to be screened this September to carry on the tradition.
Have you been touched by our Doggie Brigade? We’d love to hear your story, or you can comment on this post.