Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Stellar Soul

Sam I Am has started his career as a Therapy Dog. It is high time. He has quietly been doing wonderful work unofficially with his friends and neighbors. This community is the result of an Artist Relocation Program, sponsored by the City of Paducah. It has won big deal National Awards. People moved here from all over the country, leaving family, long time friends, home, and security nets to rehab crumbling old homes. It was, for everyone who came, at times overwhelming.

And there was Sam I Am. I knew better than to flatter myself thinking that our neighbors were coming to see us. Oh, certainly Bill's pasta had a hand in the steady stream of visitors arriving at supper time. But sooner than later, the guest would be sitting on our kitchen love seat, Sammy next to them, with his head in the visitor's chest and a paw gently resting on the lap.

He started his official visits at the hospital. The physical rehab floor. Sammy shows his innate gifts by waggingly walking into a room with four people: a nurse, two family members, and the patient. He greets each, and then glues himself to the patient. I don't know how he knows. The patient in one room was sitting in a chair, and his wife was sitting on the bed. Sam went to the chair, and nudged his pointy nose under the hand. He knows.

Today we visited at the women's shelter. We entered a room where Sam had never been. The therapist introduced us to Sam's new friend, who was newly arrived from the Rape Crisis Center. She was weeping, quietly. The therapist left the room, which surprised me.

I explained to Sam's new friend that I was not a therapist. Sammy was the one who would be listening to her, and I showed her his bright yellow certified therapy dog tag. I explained that dogs have a miraculous capability of listening, and taking in pain and sorrow, and giving back love. I said that dogs were incapable of judging, and that I believe that dogs are our constant example of unconditional love. I told her also, that dogs, unhampered by spoken language, can hear unspoken words perfectly, and that whatever she wanted to say or not say was just fine.

I took Sam I Am's coat off, and watched him do magic. His new friend softly stroked his head. "He's so soft," she whispered. Her tears dropped onto Sam's head and she rubbed them off. At first she was a bit tentative; her hands kept returning to her face, covering her mouth, wiping the tears in vain. More just kept coming.

Sammy looked at me for reassurance, worry in his eyes thick as storm clouds. I pulled out some little treats and put them in front of his new friend. She gave him one treat, and another, until they were gone. Sam did not look to me for more, he leaned into her. She kept stroking his head and quietly weeping.

After a bit, Sam looked at me for help. There was an upholstered bench in the room. I asked Sam's new friend if she would mind sitting on the bench, because I thought that Sam wanted to get closer. She moved to the bench, leaving her wad of tissues behind. She sat on the bench, and I prayed to Sam. I didn't need to. Sammy hopped up next to her, gently sat and by lifting a paw in a "please" gesture, asked permission to lay in her lap. She patted her leg, and Sam softly placed his head and one paw on her thigh. "I miss my dog," she cried.

They sat like that for, well, I have no idea how much time passed. Twice Sam looked up backwards and lifted his nose to her face. "He gives nose kisses," I explained. "And I want you to know, that Sam I Am kisses are rare indeed."

"He sure is beautiful," she smiled. Sammy nudged her hand which had stopped stroking him for a nanosecond. She laughed. "Can you believe it? I haven't been able to stop crying since I got here. I wasn't allowed to cry, and since I got here I can't stop. But he's got me smiling."

As we were leaving she gave me a hug and said, "Thank you. Thank you for bringing your beautiful dog. Thank you."

"No," I said.

"Thank you."

Hug your blessed hounds


  1. Love that SAM I AM! LOVE LOVE LOVE the pretty wonderful snow! Didn't see you out walking the dogs this afternoon!

  2. Ahhhh, how sweet. I am glad that Sam has found his niche! Doggies are the best medicine.

  3. Dear Sam I Am,

    Thank you for being such a wonderful help to people in need!! This story brought tears to my eyes.

    Keep up the good work!


    Dog lover

  4. wonderful story. Sam is a star, and he is lucky to have you to ease the way


  5. That's beautiful, Patience. xoxoxomt

  6. Sam I Am!!!!
    I love you so much!! Thanks for sharing this! You are great!
    Kisses and hugs

  7. Well Sam I am has me cwying and Mommi is having a lot of twouble seeing the keys on the pooter to help me type..you'we my hewo Sammy
    smoochi ekisses

  8. Sam I Am is truly a dog among dogs. Sensitive and caring. Anyone would be glad to know him.

  9. What a wonderful story. Had Mom nearly crying and still smiling by the end. Quite a talent you have to make her smile and want to cry! We love your blog.

  10. i used to take joker to work with me. often people would come into our office in a state of trauma. sometimes children would come in, crying. joker would sit quietly with them and you could see them relaxing, slowly. this post is so moving. dogs give so much more than we ever see.

  11. Oh bless his heart. They just know don't they?

  12. That made mom cry but she says she is so glad Sam I am was there for that lady.

  13. Thanks for sharing that Patience. And having the good sense to let Sam do his thing.

  14. Great story. They sure seem to know what to do...

  15. Oh beautiful Sam I Am, you are magic. It's good to hear he was able to help. What a good boy!

    On a side note, Athena gives nose kisses too. She's also doing run-by-kissing, where she'll jump halfway to wherever you are, and giving you some licks. But sometimes she'll just jump up and kiss you with her nose. Those are my favorite.

  16. Oh, Sam I Am, our mom's eyes were leaking when she read that story! That's a great accomplishment since she has always had more compassion for animals than humans! Maybe she's changing! You are doing such a wonderful job!

    Poppy, Penny & Pockets

  17. How wonderful. Therapy work with our whippets is so amazing for eveyone involved. Good work Sam.

  18. Sam I Am you are so wonderful. I would love to meet you...........What a treasure.

    Tilly kisses wouldn't go down well in a hospital but they might take patients minds off their problems for a while!

  19. Awwwwwww. That's so heartwarming. Sam I Am has found yet another calling. Great work!


  20. What a wonderful story! Mom is wiping away tears!

    Love ya lots,
    Maggie and Mitch

  21. woofies All, animals have this special bond to people that need them..they dont have to say or do anything, just the thot of someone that cares enuff to listen to them and b there for them...

    b safe,

  22. Oh my gosh, this is beautiful!

    How in the world did YOU keep from crying at what you were witnessing in that room?!

    Good for you for persuing his beautiful gift and sharing it with those that need it so.

  23. Sam I Am,I am so proud to have you as my friend! I hope I could help others like you. Keep up the good job!

    I dun belong to any pet assisted therapy group but I go to the old folks home that my daddy volunteer at. I have converted a lot of non dog lovers into liking me.

    They will come down to the living area to see me when they know that I will be there. Many request jie jie to put me on their lap so that they can stroke me.

    I am not able to do the job as well as you but I was able to bring smile onto many faces.

  24. Katherine isn't a certified therapy dog, yet. But, when our grandmother was in the nursing home for a few months, she went often. She was a great hit among those residents who were there. We have gone back a couple of times since grandmother was released to see all the friends that we met there.

  25. Sweet, sweet Sammy! *sniff*

    Hugs, Ane

  26. And this is the beauty of therapy work.......love it! Thanks for sharing.

    I'm hoping in my heart of hearts that our new dane girl will someday be a therapy dog...that's my dream.

    Take care,

    Shannon (The Zoo Crew's mama)

  27. Oh geez, get me another hankie! You always do that to me, Patience! Beautiful post...and yes, dogs ARE the most amazing healers. I woke up this morning feeling kind of blah...and Miss Maisie tickle licked my ear. Instant happiness!

  28. Having trouble posting through wet eyes. Dogs are so amazing.We have therapy dogs in the hospital and ther is nothing like them..Love PL2 and A+A


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