Charlie the Animal Assisted Therapy Dog

Please Note: The dog in the accompanying photograph is the subject of the story, but any persons shown are probably not those in the story.

Photograph of Charlie dog

Since Charlie and I are new volunteers I had to take Charlie to the hospital Security to get his badge made. After the security guard took his picture, he told me it would take about 15 minutes to make his badge, and that I could either wait or come back later. I looked around and saw a couple of benches. A young woman was sitting alone on one of benches and was smiling at Charlie, so I told the guard that I'd sit over there and would wait.

The young woman looked about 21 yrs. old. Charlie was wagging his tail furiously while she ruffled his fur, oohing and awing over him. She suddenly stopped, looked up at me and said, "My brother committed suicide, and I was there," then covered her face with her hands, slumped over, and started crying. While I was comforting her, as if on cue, Charlie suddenly popped up, and put his paws on her knees. She pulled her hands from her face, and there was Charlie; almost nose-to-nose with her while he wagged even more furiously. Her voice was cracking, "Oh, Charlie, you're so adorable!" She started to smile. I asked if she had any dogs, so she proudly told me about her dogs and even shared some cute pictures with me.

She also told me that she was told to wait there for 20 minutes while they moved her brother from the Emergency Room to the 4th floor. I didn't ask any questions, but from that comment, I presumed he made it. After about 15 minutes the security guard slid the window open and said Charlie's badge was ready.  At the same time, a nurse stepped off the elevator and told the young woman that she can go upstairs now. She looked at Charlie, hugged him, and said, "Thank you so much Charlie." Again on cue, he started wagging and wagging. She also thanked me for staying with her.

Call it a coincidence or a higher power that put me and Charlie there at that very moment, but whatever it was, and no matter how heartbreaking it was to experience the moment, I'm glad Charlie was able to give this young woman a small break from her pain.