Healing Hearts with My Furry Friend

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The strong smell of cigarettes filled my senses as I entered into a solemn hallway. I stared into the lights which flickered off and on. My gaze was abruptly interrupted by a resident who grotesquely howled from their room, “Help me, help me,” sending a shiver down my spine. Continuing down the dull hall, I walked outside to the back patio. As the splintered door swung open, the heads of twenty senior citizens instantly turned towards me; they sat in the corner picking at the floor, some slumped in rusted wheel chairs, others pacing across the patio.

Slowly, their eyes drifted to my feet where my dog Oliver sat. I walked to the closest man and said, “Hello, my name is Chloe and this is my therapy dog Oliver. Would you like to pet him?” The man made no verbal response but reached out his feeble hand and ran it through my dog’s fur. Suddenly, the morose setting transformed before my eyes as frowns vanished into smiles at the sight of a furry friend. Nineteen more times I introduced myself and Oliver to the patients, men and women suffering from unusually awful mental disabilities. Yet, as Oliver and I sat with each patient, an unforeseen peace filled the atmosphere as all attention was focused on my therapy dog.

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