A Little Boy That Struggled to Walk:
By Debra Baird
Buddy, my 8 year old Boxer and I were visiting Shriners Hospital for Children one afternoon. A Child Care Coordinator asked if I would take Buddy to visit a patient that was receiving treatment in the physical therapy room of the facility. As we approached the treatment area, I could hear a child crying. Once we entered the room, I saw a little boy surrounded by nurses and a physical therapist… they were trying to get the child to stand and walk. The young boy was sobbing and kept crying out, “I can’t walk… it hurts… it hurts!!! At one point, one of the nurses that was assisting the child, stepped away and when she did, the little boy caught sight of Buddy. He instantly stopped crying and asked if he could pet the dog. The physical therapist said, “Of course you can pet the dog, but you will have to walk to him”. I was asked to position Buddy at the opposite end of the railed walking apparatus the little boy was to walk down. The child was so focused on Buddy. He bravely started taking small steps toward his goal of petting the dog at the other end. When the little boy reached Buddy, a nurse helped him sit in the wheelchair that was next to Buddy. Once the child was secured in the wheelchair, he took his arms and wrapped them around Buddy’s neck. Seeing how happy the boy was when he got to pet Buddy, filled my heart with joy. Not only did this sweet child overcome his fear of walking after having surgery on both legs, his story also added another chapter to the many narratives of how therapy dogs can make a difference in the lives of so many patients struggling with pain and suffering.