Just something nice

UPDATED: Monday, May 7, 2012 12:02
VIEWED: 3083
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Sunday, May 6, 2012 5:03 AM


Gettin' old, but still a hippie at heart...

With all the shit in the world, it's nice for me to contemplate, once again, the gifts dogs give us.

For the last week, Archibald Downer -- a 65-year-old on dialysis -- has been painfully poked and prodded with needles as doctors try to figure out why his fever and blood pressure won't go down.

He is bedridden among others who are sick and dying in the palliative care unit at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, where the days and sometimes the pain seem endless.

But once a week, a warm and loving spirit sweeps through the stressful New York City hospital, and is greeted like a breath of fresh air -- Spirit, the therapy dog, that is.

Spirit has been trained as a pet enrichment therapy dog, a role he takes seriously in the palliative care unit at Montifiore Medical Center in the Bronx in New York City as seen here in this undated handout photo

With his sparkling blue eyes and friendly demeanor, the 6-year-old mutt is certified to work with patients, lifting spirits, lowering anxiety levels and easing pain -- both psychological and physical.

"He jumps on my bed and lays on my legs, getting comfortable," said Downer, a retired plumber. "It's a nice way to help those who are crying from pain. The dog makes a whole lot of difference. My arm was stinging [for repeated blood draws] but it don't bother me no more."

"Every day, I ask the doctor if I can leave," he said. "But the dog changed my mind."

Animals have provided emotional comfort to humans for thousands of years. According to the Society, animal-assisted therapy can help children who have suffered abuse or neglect and patients undergoing cancer treatments.

Pets have also forged strong bonds with veterans' families who are coping with the effects of wartime military service.

A 2011 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants reveals that patients report "feeling better" when they interact with an animal.

"It brings us closer not only to the patient, but to their family, as well," said Dr. Rose Guilbe, medical director of the palliative care unit and a family physician. "It creates a nicer working environment and takes away from the stiffness of medicine."

Spirit must follow strict hospital guidelines. His paws are disinfected before he enters the unit, he is on a leash and he wears a photo ID.

"Spirit needs his own insurance and has to be cleared by a veterinarian for infection control," adds Guilbe.

And he only visits those patients who have given their consent. Not all people love dogs, and the staff understands that.

"It brings out a part of the patient we don't usually see -- some joy in their personality that we don't get with opioids and other medical treatments," she said. "It also increases the communication among us in the medical community."

Spirit loves his work as much as patients do, according to his owner Linda Koebner, who found him at the pound while working in Shreveport, La.

"He looks a lot like a Siberian husky or Australian shepherd," she said. "I have been told he has a lot of [Louisiana] Catahoula in him."

Spirit had been badly abused as a pup, but remains "so gentle and sweet and just exudes affection," said Koebner, 61. "He's definitely not a testosterone-infused dog."

"Animals can have such an amazing impact on people," she said. "From what I've observed, it's the nonjudgmental piece of it. They touch something soft that is totally there for you in that moment and you don't have to do anything."

Koebner is getting her master's degree in health advocacy and has had a growing interest in end-of-life issues. She had Spirit certified in pet therapy and approached Montefiore a year ago.

A committee was formed to establish protocols for the health and safety of patients.

When he arrives in the palliative unit his water bowl is waiting.

"Everyone is happy to see him and he is so excited to go," said Koebner.

"It's a stressful environment and to have someone show up with love and kindness is great. Everyone wants their picture taken with him."

Spirit greets the patients in the hallways, those in wheelchairs and those who are confined to bed.

In one room an elderly woman lay unresponsive with her two children, both in their 50s, at her bedside.

"The minute Spirit brushed against her, she woke up and became aware and totally animated for 20 minutes and talked about the dogs she'd had," said Koebner. "It was a poignant conversation for the three of them together."

Guilbe, who is sometimes jaded by 20 years of conventional medicine, said she has seen the holistic healing power of Spirit's visits.

Just this week the dog jumped in bed with a woman who has chronic, incurable illness.

"She had been raised on a farm in Massachusetts and just the touch and feel of the animal brought back to her the wonderful years when she was a child and there were so many dogs running around," she said.

"It opens up another piece of my heart," said Guilbe of the interaction. "We are trained to be such stoic medical providers. I learned something about Ms. G that I would not have gotten had I just treated her symptoms. I really see her as so much more human ... It makes such a difference."
see both the Catahoula (also known as Leopard Dog) and some husky in him; both can have blue eyes, but catahoula's blue eyes are usually--for lack of a better word--"weirder"...they come in many colors, frequently bi-eyed (each eye a different color)

or parti-eyed (two separate colors in one eyes)

and even can have eyes so devoid of color (or so pale blue, if you wish) that there's a name for them: "glass eyed"

or even "cracked-glass eyed", parti-eyed with glass eye:

Huskies can have the same kind of eye coloring, but it's not as common as in Catahoulas.

There. Your useless piece of trivia for the day. And just to remind you there are SOME good things going on in the world. AND how neat dogs are, again. ;o)


Sunday, May 6, 2012 8:59 AM



I had a nice night last night, got to walk about with that super-bright full moon beaming down on everything and basking it in this eerie, but very pretty glow - and I had a large Fox step around a building and give me a smirky look before bolting off into the woods, which was way cool but too quick for me to get the camera out.

That and I got to help one of our residents with a mechanical issue, diagnoses and suggestions, (basically the battery was completely shot) and when I went out this morning to pick my car up from the shop, there they were with a new battery, no tools and not a clue how to put it in (pair of little old ladies, mind) and so I grabbed my toolbox, swapped it out for em and problem solved.

Like you, all the nasty in this world irritates me, so it's damn satisfying to be able to do something wholly nice for someone just cause you have the opportunity and ability - we need more of that, everywhere.



Sunday, May 6, 2012 5:09 PM


It's best when we all help one another.


Monday, May 7, 2012 3:12 AM


... fully loaded, safety off...


Originally posted by Niki2:

AND how neat dogs are, again. ;o)

Thx Niki - dogs are cool! Love this little guy (girl) - I'd never heard of this dog, "leopard" even though I'm sure I've seen one, probably.

Scifi movie music + Firefly dialogue clips, 24 hours a day -


Monday, May 7, 2012 3:21 AM


Gettin' old, but still a hippie at heart...

Yeah, they call Catahoula's by that, or Catahoula Leopard Dog, or just Leopard Dog. They're neat dogs, going by the only one I got to know. Hunting dogs, of course, coming from the South.

He IS a cutie, isn't he? I had to google to find examples of the different eye colors--there are lots out there!--and he struck me as particularly adorable. All puppies are, of course; heck, virtually all ANIMAL babies are!


Monday, May 7, 2012 12:02 PM


I had a dog today - well, for a little while, I left him with Oscar, who's glad to have him...
What I know about dog breeds would fit in a thimble, but he was little, brown and friendly.

See, I was putting my groceries in the trunk, and I keep hearing yelping and whining, and finally I spot him through the tinted windows of the minivan his "owner" had left him in - with the friggin windows rolled all the way up, of course, and he'd been there a while given he piddled on the floor and was looking a bit foamy at the chops and glazed in the eyes.

And something about it pissed me off more than usual, so I let him out - potential legal hassles or not, I just couldn't drive off and leave him to suffer, couldn't.

Sure enough, some time after this weedy lookin guy comes out asking me what the hell imma doin with "his" dog, and I totally snapped.

"YOUR dog ?!, it's A dog - it's a living, breathing creature with it's own mind and will, it's not a lawn ornament or a fucking knicknack or a piece of property goddamn it, this is a mammal, a being, damn near human and prolly better than some of em, what RIGHT you got to inflict suffering on it for your convenience ?"

He asks me if I am one of those PETA freaks, to which I told him not hardly, and all this time the dog has circled around being my legs and is all but hiding behind me so I take it this creep wasn't real nice to him, and I cut off his ranting and tell him "Enough, it ain't YOUR dog any more, he's coming with me, and if you think to dispute it, lets just see who he follows when I walk away..."
Which I did, and yes he followed me - said creep tried orders, threats, wheedling, no avail and finally says "Fine, fuck it, take him, I don't care!" - then gets in his minivan (which I sincerely hope reeked of dog pee) slams the door and drives off.

I took the dog to Oscar, who's beloved poodle passed on due to old age about a month ago, and told him the story, he was pretty outraged and of course he'd keep the doggie, damn sure treat it better, and that's a fact!

Honestly I dunno what provoked me to do it - I can be cold blooded about not getting involved in stuff sometimes admittedly, but... I dunno, sometimes you just gotta do what your heart tells you to even if you're technically in the wrong for it.

Saw a fellow walking a trio of rowdy huskies on the way back, which I took for a good omen, man I bet he has his hands full, meh heh heh.







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