I can’t help but tear up every time I hear an incredible story about pets and their relationship with the people they support. I’m overcome with emotion when I watch videos on social media and hear stories about animals who have saved a person’s life or performed an extraordinary action. Sometimes animals are trained specifically to be someone’s eyes and ears. Other times, it’s by chance that the animal takes on a role of savior, confidant or support pet. Regardless, there is something magical and unspoken about the relationship between animals and people.
I would like to share a few short stories to depict the power and connection that I am talking about.
• A large Labrador retriever bounded up to a woman in the street. She took him to the animal shelter hoping he could be returned to his owner. The dog had a collar with a tag on his neck with a current phone number. The man who answered the phone was relieved when he heard that Sam was safe. He told the shelter worker that his wife is blind. She was walking home from the market when she had a diabetic incident. Sam, her seeing-eye dog, had broken her fall when she collapsed. The pup had run to the nearest house and barked until the owner came out to find the woman on the ground. During all of the drama, the man’s wife returned home safe but without Sam. He had been missing for hours. Found three blocks away from the incident, the shelter loaded him up in the vehicle and brought him home. Sam saved the woman’s life that day and, when he returned home, he gave her back her eyes.
• The little collie mix was adopted from the shelter by a family with a teenage son who had severe autism. The boy’s doctor suggested getting a dog as a support animal for the boy since he had regular seizures when he got frustrated. They got a dog reluctantly, but quickly realized it was the best thing for their son. The boy, who before would rarely speak or leave the house, was now verbal and proud to walk his dog. He would talk to everyone who would listen about his new friend. Whenever the boy got frustrated, the pup would sit close by the boy’s side. He would hug the hold the dog next to him because it helped the boy calm down. He had not had a seizure since acquiring the dog.
• The veterinary team found out pretty quickly that Bambi was deaf upon arrival at the animal shelter. Almost like a case of serendipity, the very day Bambi was placed up for adoption, Sarah and her mother came to the shelter looking for a dog to call their own. Sarah, too, was deaf. They decided to adopt the dog and taught her sign language so that the two could communicate. They became best buddies and Bambi gave Sarah the confidence she needed to succeed at school.
We can’t forget the dog that woke up a woman when the house was on fire and saved her life. Or, the cat that helped the stroke victim recover because part of his psychical therapy was to pet and brush the kitty. And, the dog who gave the army veteran suffering from PTSD a renewed reason to get up each day. I could go on and on with these amazing stories. It seems as if animals have a natural ability to sense what we need and to be there for us.
I am lucky. Working in a shelter I get to see the amazing relationship between people and their pets each and every day. As matchmakers, our staff get to make the human-animal bond a reality through pet adoption. I couldn’t ask for a better job!