This Therapy Dog Helped a Paralyzed Woman Move Her Arm Again

Angel is truly a remarkable dog.

Twenty years ago, I became involved in pet therapy work with our golden retriever, J.J. After J.J. passed away, we got another golden retriever puppy, whom we named J.J.’s Angel. As she matured and went through obedience training, we realized that she, too, would be a good therapy dog. In case you ever wondered, here’s the difference between emotional support animals and service animals.

Angel is ten now and works every week. She visits two hospitals, a daycare for the elderly, and our library’s PAWS for Reading program. At the library, six to ten dogs lie on the floor, and the kids pick a book to read to a dog. After they finish, they get a trading card with the dog’s picture and history. Angel has also helped out at a children’s special-needs camp. She is so popular that everywhere we go people recognize her, especially the kids she has worked with.

We have seen some very special things through our pet therapy work. I brought Angel to our local hospital to visit a woman who was completely paralyzed on her right side from a stroke. We spent time with her every week. One day, my husband, Jack, got Angel up into a chair next to the woman’s bed. He asked her if she wanted to give Angel a treat. She nodded, and Jack carefully placed the treat in her right hand. Angel gently took the treat. Then the woman raised her right hand and started petting Angel. Her friend was in the room and said, “She hasn’t been able to move that hand since she had her stroke!”

After that, every time we saw the woman, she lifted her left hand. We’d tell her she had to use her right hand, and she would.

Somehow it seems appropriate that when Angel visits the hospital, she also performs tricks for the patients with her paws. The best one is when she crouches on the floor, bows her head, and crosses her paws. She stays very still and doesn’t move until Jack says “Amen” and claps his hands. We taught her how to say a prayer! Next, you’ll fall in love with this woman’s story of fostering a pet during coronavirus and why she calls it the best decision she ever made.

Originally Published in Country