In August 2009, a 9 year old boy began a 40-day stay at a local Salt Lake City hospital due to a ruptured appendix. Because his system had become septic, he had two huge incisions: one horizontal and one vertical across his little abdomen and a pump to expel the infection. His pain was so severe he cried if someone even touched the bed sheets.
Then one day in November he received a visit from Liberty, a Standard Poodle that is registered with Delta Society® (Pet Partners®) and Therapy Animals of Utah. The boy allowed Liberty to lie on the bed next to him. Liberty’s handler, Stacy Grover, a Delta Society (Pet Partners) licensed instructor and evaluator, recalls the visit with the boy and his grandmother who was there to give his mother a break. “I remember getting Liberty up there, not touching him at all, and him moving ever so carefully over towards her. Liberty just lay there like a statue, without moving, totally relaxed. As the visit progressed, her calmness seemed to dissipate through the room and everybody seemed to relax, and by the time we left, they both seemed like they felt a little better.”
A faint smile crossed the boy’s face as he snuggled next to Liberty. This set the scene for the first picture his family has of him smiling in the hospital. The next day brought even more smiles as the boy let his mother lie beside him. Referring to Liberty’s and Stacy’s visit, his mother shared, “It really was a turning point for us. Thank you for bringing us joy at such a difficult time in our lives.”