Tuesday, November 27, 2012





Gracie and I decided to accompany Angela and Lottie to the hospital to sit in on a group therapy session with brain injured patients.  I had heard from the neuro psychologist how much Lottie, had helped the patients she was trying to reach.  I had to see for myself.


Lottie has a gentle spirit and a sensitive intuitive nature. But what I was about to witness would surprise even me.


Being just days before Christmas, the group was unusually small with only four attending. For a while patients were talking about dogs they had once had and about someday getting another dog, ‘when they get better.’ Gracie visited everyone and then figured Lottie ‘had it covered’ so she curled up in the corner of the room and fell asleep.


Soon a wounded soldier in rehab was asked by the therapist if he was sleeping any better at night.  He said, ‘No, the nightmares still come.” As he began telling of the horrors of war that returned to him each night, Lottie, off leash, went to him.  It started simply enough, with this special therapy dog placing her front paws on the sofa where both Manny and the therapist sat.  As he talked, his level of stress increased and his leg started slowly bouncing up and down in a nervous rhythmical way.  And as it did, Lottie, or “Loddy Doddy” as Manny calls her, crawled, or as I like to say, oozed, slowly onto Manny’s lap.  Soon, without fanfare or notice, Lottie was sitting in the middle his lap. It was as if she was showing him the way to warmth and safety.  Manny never missed a beat. He accepted and welcomed her with open arms and heart, as he continued talking about the frightening nightly interruptions.


Lottie, sitting upright, soon placed her head on his shoulder and snuggled into his neck.  The eyes of the therapist turned to me.  As we locked eyes, we both realized something quite incredible had happened.  Words were not spoken, nor were they even necessary.  Manny, wearing a red and white Santa hat with the pompom off to the side, buried his face into the fur of this big black lab, his leg quieted and he gently stroked Lottie.


Manny may have trouble with nightmares, but for that moment he was at peace. 


After all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

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