Hello and Welcome back!! Last week, we visited with a young 29 year old lady who has had her share of pain and suffering. An update: She is being sent back to her surgeon due to serious complications. The Foundation will continue to follow her story and bring you updates.
This week we visit with Bethany Davis, a local breeder who specializes in Service and Therapy Newfoundland dogs. She’s as amazing as her dogs. Enjoy her story and the adorable pictures! Easy to see how pain and suffering could be eased by petting one of these beauties!
Join us now for Part III in a Series: Pain and Suffering. Be sure and read Dr. Sacon’s response after the ad in the middle of the blog…
My name is Bethany Davis and I am the owner of Notta Bear Newfoundlands.
Notta Bear is a kennel of currently eleven Service and therapy Newfoundland Dogs. We do therapy visits in cancer treatment centers, hospitals, with chronically and terminally ill children, assisted living homes and much more. We also attend awareness events and fundraisers. Notta Bear also sends photos to locations we cannot make it to which circulate and are passed around to those receiving treatment and their families. Everything we do is self-funded with a few small fundraisers a couple times a year. I am also a groomer, trainer, and handler of Notta Bear dogs.
Notta Bear has seen miraculous things happen to the people we visit that are in pain and suffering. Not only the patients themselves but also their family and friends. A year ago Notta Bear was called by a friend. The mother of a 19 year old boy was frantic and in distress. Andy, her son, had been diagnosed with multiple cancers throughout his body and had recently had brain surgery. He was in the hospital and his blood pressure and heart rate were off the charts and he had hiccups that wouldn’t go away! He couldn’t have chemo treatments until his vitals were stable and the hiccups stopped. She told us that they have tried everything, she didn’t know what to do, and asked if we could bring a dog. Andy had three Newfoundlands at home whom he missed terribly as he had been in the hospital for weeks. We weren’t sure how much help we could be, but were happy to at least be a comfort for the young boy. The next day we brought two young puppies in and the doctors just so happened to be in the room. We put the puppies in Andys lap and immediately his heart rate went down! We saw the doctors exchange looks, and then his blood pressure stabilized! As Andy was talking and holding a puppy, his mother also petted and snuggled one too. You could see the color come back to her face and a smile crept out! As the doctors were talking, people were taking pictures of the puppies, Andy said “My hiccups are gone!” His mother, Lisa, had tears welling up in her eyes. You could feel the stress and tension in the room walk out the door with the doctors. As we left, we were told that Andy needed to have treatment a couple days later, and that he had been allergic to all the previous chemos tried. We were asked to come back. A couple days later, Shadrach, our male Newfoundland came lumbering into Andy’s room and got in bed with him. Andy’s vitals were strong, and he hadn’t had another case of hiccups since the puppies came. The doctors started his Chemo and Shadrach hung out with him through his treatment. Andy petted him and talked to him, and Shadrach looked at him with his big brown eyes as if he was talking back.
Pain and suffering comes in many forms from physical to mental and we can experience them at the same time. Dogs, and other therapy animals, have a special effect on us. Not only do they effect the patients, but their family as well. Even the staff members benefit greatly from therapy Dogs! Every visit we are asked to visit the office staff and doctors. Sometimes simple stress can be experienced as suffering, especially when it comes in high doses.
When the dogs of Notta Bear visit the cancer treatment center we make our way to the treatment room. This is a large room with people in chairs getting their treatment. Some are there from a couple of hours to all day, some are alone, and some are accompanied by a family member or friend. There are both men and women, young and old. The room is typically almost silent. Sometimes there is some quiet chatter between a patient and a nurse and the beeping of machines. When a dog walks into the room and we ask “Would anyone like to meet a therapy dog?” faces immediately light up! As the dog goes to each person, and they pet and talk to them, the room starts to come alive. People start talking about dogs they had in their childhood or their current pets. They are talking to other patients sitting next to them, laughing and exchanging stories about their pets, not all are dogs. As our visit comes to an end, and we exit the treatment center we leave a room completely different than the one we walked into. The people are talking, smiles are on their faces, color returns to cheeks, and for a few moments these people forget where they are.
We, Notta Bear, are Helping to heal hearts, inspire hope, and educate all with a wagging tail.
Bethany Davis, Notta Bear
And now, Dr. Maureen Sacon’s response to Bethany Davis:
Bethany, Notta Bear sounds like an awesome organization and the work that you are doing is inspiring. Keep up the good work! I am so glad that you brought the topic of the healing power of animals into our blog conversation.
As I write this response on Veteran’s day it seems appropriate to tell you the story about one of my patients who is a disabled vet. He had a traumatic brain injury and suffers from PTSD. My staff and I recently spent a few hours researching the best service dog organization for him. I was happy to find that there are many options for veterans.
I love hearing my friend Cheri’s dog story. She was working at her job in a Boston hospital. They had been taking care of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing and were exhausted. A big van filled with puppies and dogs arrived at the service entrance to the hospital. She watched her fellow staff members get recharged. Some people ran up to the puppies and started playing with them and laughing. A few gently took an animal to a quiet corner and sobbed into their fur.
Now this friend of mine, Cheri, is a woman of action. It didn’t take her long to decide to get a therapy dog of her own. She had to get trained herself! She was paired with a young black lab, Riley, who she now takes to work with her every day. Riley is now part of a team of 8 dogs who visit patients, comfort families, and de-stress employees. Even better, Riley was trained by female prisoners. The experience of training a service dog was pretty powerful for these women.
One of my jobs is to help people whose life has been deconstructed by an injury or illness learn to re-engage in their life. Thank you for reminding me how helpful animals can be in this process.
To make an appointment with Dr. Maureen Sacon, click HERE
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the Holiday next week, we will not be posting a “Pain and Suffering” Blog. Instead, please join us for a “one of” editorial by Linda Tate. The topic will be: “Mindful Gratitude”. So grab “A Cup of Coffee” and let’s talk.