Therapy dog makes woman's last days memorable

 
By Cathe Keres
Posted11/28/2016 6:00 AM
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  • Cathe Keres of Lake Bluff visits hospice patients with her certified pet therapy dog, Clancy.

    Cathe Keres of Lake Bluff visits hospice patients with her certified pet therapy dog, Clancy. Courtesy of JourneyCare

I try to help JourneyCare in any way I can. Through my catering business, I have donated food for special events like the Lake County Honor Flight. The Honor Flight partners with JourneyCare's We Honor Veterans Program, which helps servicemen and women facing serious illness.

But usually you will find me visiting patients with my dog, Clancy, who is a certified pet therapy dog.

I always hope pet therapy is helping, but I didn't really understand what a difference it makes until just recently.

A 79-year-old home hospice patient in Libertyville requested to see a large therapy dog. Clancy fit the bill and she fell in love when they met.

The patient loved him so much, in fact, that she would show him off to neighbors by walking around the block with Clancy or sitting with him in her open garage. I even took a photo of the patient and Clancy together so she would have a keepsake when he was away.

On the days she struggled with symptoms from her illness, she would tell her husband she needed to get up and get ready because, "I've got to be good for Clancy."

But soon the patient's illness advanced and her husband told us not to come. A few days later, she died.

At her funeral visitation, I noticed the family had created a photo board of the woman's life. Right in the middle of the collage was the picture of her and Clancy.

Her husband came up to me and said, "Clancy made her so happy the last days of her life, you'll never know how much he meant to her."

I replied that Clancy was in the car, and the family requested I bring the dog inside. All attention turned to Clancy and suddenly this somber event gained an air of laughter and healing.

Not until that point did I really see how inspirational this was and see the impact JourneyCare volunteers can make.

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