Skip to comments.America Supports You: Canines Offer Healing Therapy to Wounded Warriors
Posted on 07/06/2007 4:49:32 PM PDT by SandRat
| FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, July 6, 2007 Sweetheart, Jackson and Ellie Mae, three pooches, are helping to change the lives of wounded warriors at Brooke Army Medical Center here.
Theres a bond between humans and animals, explained dog trainer Charlie Brugnola, of Silver Lakes, Calif. Pets help us to deal with stress and put us in a mood that is beneficial to us.
Brugnola and his wife, Sally, brought the dogs to the hospital during June as part of the Delta Society of San Antonio Chapter Therapy Dog Program at the medical center.
In the eyes of the wounded warriors we see a light, a light of determination and tenacity. That light glows when making contact with the eyes of Sweetheart, Brugnola said. She looks deep into their eyes, conveying a message -- a message only she and the soldier truly comprehend. And therein lies the magic, the wonderment and the connection these animals give to humans, the ability to bond and heal in very profound ways beyond human ability.
Sweetheart, a mixed beagle, has a direct connection with soldiers and anyone who meets her. That connection is tied to a near-fatal incident that occurred several years ago.
Left to die in a burning house, Sweetheart was rescued when a witness saw the terribly burned dog sit up and wag her tail. A doctor performed skin grafts and was amazed by the canines determination. Several people were involved with Sweethearts recovery.
Sweetheart is a burn survivor that inspires, motivates and melts hearts, Brugnola said. Throughout her life, Sweetheart has repaid this obligation by helping other people.
A number of patients felt a special kinship with Sweetheart, because of her experience of overcoming severe burns, said Chaplain (Col.) Daniel Moll, chief of the Ministry Department at Brooke Army Medical Center. A friendly nuzzle or lick from a puppy is always a positive experience for our patients here. Theres a special connection for those in the burn treatment ward.
To share Sweethearts survivor skills, the Brugnolas decided to visit the wounded soldiers at BAMC.
Its phenomenal what takes place here, Sally said. We are in awe and humbled by the very men and women we strive to serve. These young soldiers and their families are an inspiration to us.
During a three-week visit, Sweetheart and Jackson, a German shepherd, laid next to soldiers during mat workouts at the Center for the Intrepid, a state-of-the-art rehabilitation center here, and Ellie Mae, a Lhasa Apso, rode on the laps of soldiers in wheelchairs, all the while giving kisses.
Also, the dogs wagged a greeting to anyone within petting distance during long strolls through the hallways.
Army Sgt. Joy Nelson, an occupational therapist assistant, knows firsthand about the work of therapy dogs.
Everyone I saw, I told them about the dogs. When patients talked about the pain, Id tell them about the dogs. Id say a dog cant tell you how bad it hurts, Nelson said. And then the patients mind would get redirected.
Nelson said one patient with a head injury had not responded as he should have until he played with the dogs for about five minutes.
That afternoon, he started talking more, Nelson said. The next day he was up walking around, called his parents and was discharged from the hospital.
Theres a special connection, Moll said. Pet therapy brings a sense of home normalcy to patients who are in the healing process.
Brugnola echoed Molls remarks. After the patient spent time with the dogs, it triggered that he had a dog and that he needed to take care of it.
Animals, dogs, have been put on earth for very special reasons, Brugnola added. We, as humans, are just starting to realize their special purpose.
(Jen Rodriguez works at Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs.)
Brooke Army Medical Center
America Supports You
LONE STAR STATE AND DOGGIE PING
Sweetheart really is.
I appreciate the sentiments, I really do -- but there's NO WAY this guy said that. NOBODY talks like that, not even an English major with a doctorate and a book full of $2 words. Wrote it, maybe, on his website. It's still embarassing.
A must read post.
Mohammad hated dogs, and I know why. Dogs can sense evil.
This woof, woof story to be bookmarked.
Where is Fort Sam Houston? I have a dog that should be a therapy dog. Sweetest most loving dog that as ever owned me.
Have two questions. Do people also train as well as adopt therapy dogs also from rescue shelters? Or is it restricted to purebred dogs. Thanks for all responses.
Yes, only an evil being would hate man’s best friend.
Thanks for the ping. The story brought tears to my eyes...especially Sweetheart’s story and her special connection with the patients. It’s easy to see how she got her name. Just another reason to give thanks to God for blessing us with dogs.
God bless our wounded military folks to complete recovery to a good and fulfilling life.
I think it is in San Antonio - kind of a suburb.
In San Antonio, Texas Go here http://maps.yahoo.com/index.php#q1=Fort+Sam+Houston%2C+TX+78234&env=U for map of how to find it. This is the Fort’s Home Web Site http://fshtx.army.mil/sites/local/
Contact the the Delta Society Therapy Dog Program at http://www.deltasociety.org/VolunteerActionStates.htm and I’m sure they can answer all your questions.
Our long haired Jack Russel should be there to give love to the wounded soldiers. He would be perfect, I’ll see what I can do.
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