Grief Therapy Dogs

Kal- a young Golden Retriever takes on the pain of human grief, by choice.
Kal- a young Golden Retriever takes on the pain of human grief, by choice. | Source
A long walk on the beach helps to quell the heartbreak and increase the bond between human and K9 companion.
A long walk on the beach helps to quell the heartbreak and increase the bond between human and K9 companion. | Source

The Inherited Loyalty of the K9

a painless joyous place...

I am going to start this article by saying, if you do nothing else today, you must at least watch the video that is offered within this article. It, as is this hub, is dedicated to my cousin-in-law Jake. Nothing will inspire you more than the few minutes it takes to watch the video. Thanks -K9-

A far too recent August took the love of my life to reside in a painless joyous place we humans refer to as heaven. The sadness, overwhelming and desperate, leeched from my heart all of the will I may have once had. Nothing was clear, unblemished or tasteful as it had once been. My dear friend's Sue and Chrissy who remained by my side to see me through this time, had a female Golden Retriever who was a month away from whelping. Even as it was soon after cancer took my love, they knew I needed something to nurture. What they may not have known, was that that something would nurture me in return.

July 30Th, I get the call:

"Gracie is having her babies, and she's on my new white designer bedspread!" Sue had been resting while Gracie, her sweet and whelping Golden was snuggled up to her side quietly enduring the waves of birth.

"There is blood everywhere!" Sue continues, "she already has three puppies!"

Knowing Sue had never helped a momma dog 'birth no babies' I responded, "I am on my way Susie."

...cleaning and bathing and cleaning, and cleaning and cleaning...for 9 healthy active Golden Retriever ...

I made the short drive to Sue's beautiful home and entered to see my darling friend gathering the white stained bedding. Cleaning quietly in an attempt not to disturb Gracie. What a gal! So strong and yet so very sweet this 5' 11" German descended retired Sergeant with the Sheriff department. Her eyes wide and concerned about her beloved Golden, as the pride twinkled in her 'dog-mom' eyes, never had I seen such a bond, love, and respect for the k9 species. Gracie was just about the only one I knew (other than Chrissy) who could melt Sue's heart with a simple glance. The connection was clear.

Gracie continued to push out 9 healthy pups, in a prearranged and cushioned, as well as supplied with everything but a spa, kiddie-pool set-up just for the event. Sue and I waited while Gracie endured the wonder of motherhood at its very beginning.

Birthing Puppies

Pup after healthy pup 'popped' out. As one little guy struggled to make his way into this world I had to offer him a tiny tug to free him from Gracie. She whipped around and vigorously cleaned and stimulated his little body to consciousness. I held in my hand, the very thing that would help to heal my very broken heart. 'Gracie's Prince Kalevra of the golden realm' had arrived to save me. Susie had it already in her plan that I would receive one of these wormy cuties. And if you ever met Susie, you knew she was not one to take no for an answer.

Kalevra - pronounced ka-lêv-ra. It is a Hebrew word meaning bad-dog (which he is not).

Weeks passed as Sue endured the duty of cleaning and bathing and cleaning, and cleaning and cleaning...for 9 healthy active Golden Retriever youth and a very tired mama dog. Until the day came, the 8 week mark, the moment of adoption and delivery of my new companion! I was beside myself with anticipation. I had in the past many k9 friends and been dedicated to canine behavior (and education), but right now, this place in my life, it may well have saved this old girl from moving on to that painless joyous place mentioned earlier.

It recently became clear to me that Kalevra has chosen to be a grief therapy dog.


All Images are protected by copyright 2010 K9keystrokes

SHopping is FUN and EASY with Knine Korner!
SHopping is FUN and EASY with Knine Korner! | Source

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Kal as a puppy-dog playing his favorite pull-toy.
Kal as a puppy-dog playing his favorite pull-toy. | Source
Kal as an adolescent dog, posing nicely on the dogs couch.
Kal as an adolescent dog, posing nicely on the dogs couch. | Source

Healer of Broken Hearts

...her husband who had suddenly passed away from a heart attack.

Now in my home this little bundle of golden joy grew with me day-in and day-out. He was constantly under foot and at my side. I still had a difficult time sleeping in the bedroom so I dozed on the couch night after night. Now, as an Animal Behaviorist, I know it's against the rules to have your dog sleep in/on the bed with you. It's a 'who's the boss' thing. But, when I would wake up and this warm soft thing would be curled up at my belly, his breath reeking of 'puppy' I couldn't resist the grab-and-snuggle reaction. As he grew week following week and month following month, this would be the way we lived. Until one night, I strolled into the bedroom and was able to crawl under the unused covers and sleep where I was supposed to.

"dogs sleep in their own beds, because I am the human and this is 'my' spot."

Sleep was a rare thing in those days, my mind could hardly slow to think, more or less to sleep. But this first night back in my own bed, alone, I did find some rest. Upon waking, this now 40+ pounds of canine was once again snug at my side, as he would be until this very day. For some this would present the problem, "dogs sleep in their own beds, because I am the human and this is my spot." Which as an animal expert I understand, but as a human with a wounded heart, I wouldn't recommend it any other way. Kalevra has been dozing next to me for over two years now, and with the help of his unassuming doggy heart, I have regained a measure of love again and feel okay. No matter how wrong this is from a behavioral standpoint, it feels just right.

He just sat there with her, listening to her...

We have our rumbles now and again, a nudge with my foot to gain leg room, or the yank of the covers that accidently rolls him off the bed and onto the floor. But, all in all he is very obedient and actually the best dog I have ever had. We communicate with eye contact and clicks and hisses and subtle hand gestures. He responds to me with hardly a required word. This connection of heart and soul with my k9 has diverted my attention giving me time to breath and find new human love and companionship, not to mention several really big grins!

Fireside Golden Retreiver sits loyally with his human friend.
Fireside Golden Retreiver sits loyally with his human friend. | Source

My Grief Therapy Dog Chose His Occupation

This amazing dog and I are so very entwined. It recently became clear to me that Kalevra has chosen to be a grief therapy dog. I discovered his 'calling', if you will one week in July. We went on a camping trip with some family and friends. Four of us were sitting around the campfire when one of the women began to talk of her husband who had suddenly passed away from a heart attack. As she was telling us the story of her loss, Kalevra got up from beside my chair and casually walked over to her. What happened next brought a tear to my eye, as well as a smile to my face.

When Kalevra got over to Cheryl, who was speaking of her loss, he backed up to her, wedged his bottom between her knees with his back still facing her, sat down and placed one paw on her knee and his head on her thigh. He just sat there with her, listening to her, connected with her emotions so much that as she told the story and as the sadness welled up, she couldn't resist leaning forward and hugging him tightly while he leaned back into her urging her to just hold him and she would be okay.

It took Cheryl and me, a moment to realize what was happening, she had never known this beast, she had not really even petted him or engaged with him at all on the trip. But, at that moment she felt him embracing her pain and offering his warmth and a shoulder to cry upon. He wanted nothing in return, no expectation of thank you, no desire for a treat, just unconditional love and compassion offered up to this new broken heart. I was moved and proud of him; now fully aware that my Golden Boy was a healer of broken hearts.

All photos protected by copyright 2010 K9keystrokes

I dedicate this video and this hub to my new cousin-in-law, Jake, who recently lost his K9-helper best friend "Rock" to illness.

WHAT YOU THINK REALLY DOES MATTER!

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Comments for " Grief Therapy Dogs" 21 comments

kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

Yup, I watched it on firefox. Then I shared it on Facebook. I had to. Thank YOU for sharing it!


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California Author

You'r welcome Kim. I'm glad you were able to get back to it and watch it on firefox (i assume). I was moved greatly by the video as well.

K9


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

I just watched the video and I'm so glad I did. I'm going to have to share that one on Facebook. That was amazing. The little pup certainly was a prodigy but I love how the owner turned her 'flaw' around and put the dog's strength to work. That's so great. The dog's happy aad making many others happy. Thanks for sharing that video!


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California Author

Hi Kim~ Thanks for the read. I didn't know it wouldn't play when using Google chrome. I think you will find the extra trip to watch the video worth it tho. I am always thrilled when you stop by. Thank you for the comments, they truly mean the world!

K9


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

What a touching Hub! Thanks for sharing. I can't look at the video because it won't open in Google Chrome but I'll have to come back (in Firefox) and look at this again.


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California Author

Jane@CM~I'm sending you huge hugs on behalf of my k9. Thank you for the read and comment, it means the world.

K9


Jane@CM profile image

Jane@CM 6 years ago

I am so teared up, I can't express my emotion of this hub.


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California Author

equealla~Thank you so much for the read. I thought the video was outstanding also, and I just love the woman who trained the pup. What a loving soul.

So kind of you to note Kal is specal. I appreciate your comments.

K9


equealla profile image

equealla 6 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

What an inspiration this video is. We can learn a lot from it. Thank you for sharing, my kids loved it too!

BTW your dog is special, and the compassion is so great, it was just awesome what she did for your friend.


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California Author

IzzyM~You are too kind. I did find much inspiration writing about this topic. I am constantly reminded just how inferior we remain in contrast to what a dog offers to us in loyalty. I appreciate your stopping by and for the read!

K9


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

This is probably the most beautiful hub I have ever read! Thanks for sharing :)


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California Author

Cagsil~You are too kind. Thank you for the comment. I'm honored that you read my hub. My heart is doing much better. However; the shout-out is very cool.

K9


Cagsil profile image

Cagsil 6 years ago from USA or America

Hey K9, that is one really cool story. It was downright awesome to read about and I thank you for being strong enough to share it. And, I'm very glad you are or have healed your broken heart. :)


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California Author

bayoulady~I am so glad to hear that you have a 'dog family'! I think humans are missing out on so much without a dog in their life. And you are correct, not a thing on earth is as touching as an adoring stare! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment for me to read

K9

Purple Perl~Thank you for the comment! I can't do without dogs in my life either! I apprecite the read, I will have to swing by and read yours. Thanks for the link.

K9

SweetiePie~HI! So glad you came by to take in a hub, I am very flattered you take the time from your very busy schedule! Pleased that dogs have touched you life.

K9


Purple Perl profile image

Purple Perl 6 years ago from Bangalore,India

Excellent hub and inspirational video!

K9, I love dogs too! I have 2 @ home.Can't do without them.Here is my take on pet dogs.

http://hubpages.com/health/Top-Reasons-To-Adopt-A-...


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 6 years ago from Southern California, USA

Dogs have always brought me joy, and I can see how they would do for other people.


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

This is beautiful. I love my little dog so much it hurts to think that her little life will probably be over in a few years. She is about 8 years old. I have had her for six years, and I would glady let her comforting little body be snuggled next to me, but that didn't last because she sheds so bad, and I just can't stand all the hair in bed.Lots of hair.her crate is in my bedroom, and I do not shut the door on it. She lays there and stares at me adoringly . Who could ask for more?

She has been very empathetic to my needs and moods. She wants nothing more than to sit in my lap or as close as she can get.She is like family and I would do just about anything for her,


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California Author

billyaustindillon~Thank you, I am thrilled that you found inspiration in the story. The k9 has long been my favorite animal and has time and time again managed to prove loyal. I too believe they have that extra sense.

Thank you for the comment, it means the world!

K9


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

What a beautiful story and you are right the video is so inspiring. I also find it amazing how our pet dogs seem to know when you are feeling down or sick - they do have that extra sense.


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California Author

Pegcole~Thank you for the read. This hub really had huge meaning for me on many levels! What a wonderful dog that SURFice dog is!

K9


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Completely and totally awesome. I loved the video. That really made my day. Thanks for this great hub.

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