LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - A therapy dog who serves rehabilitation patients at CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview was treated to a bit of the love and comfort she usually provides after she was recently injured in an accident.
Zelda, an 8-year-old Australian shepherd mix, found her calling as a therapy dog with Silver Paws last year. Zelda and her handler, Casey Buck, visit Good Shepherd once a week to provide companionship to rehab patients as part of the medical center’s dog therapy program.
“She’s been coming and visiting the patients and then she had an accident and broke her femur,” said Paula Yowell, admissions coordinator with CHRISTUS Good Shepherd.
“This is a progressive thing over time. We noticed her limping about a year ago and tried to figure out what it was,” said Buck. “She actually did have to have surgery on it. Just as part of that, we did finally say is there any chance she could come back?”
Buck explained that she was afraid Zelda would get depressed if she had to sit at home during recovery, rather than experience the usual amount of attention of a therapy dog gets while visiting patients.
“Casey asks me, she said, ‘is there any way I could bring her in a wagon?’ and I said absolutely," Yowell recalled.
Yowell said she realized Zelda’s need for attention as well as her patients, and saw an exciting way to satisfy both recovery efforts; two therapies in one, Yowell explained.
“You know, they get so much better with her,” she said. “But now the patients are helping Zelda."
Silver Paws and CHRISTUS Good Shepherd are in the process of training two more dogs like Zelda to provide therapy to rehab patients. They eventually hope to have at least one dog stop by every day of the week.
“She’s been getting a little depressed at home, but coming and seeing everybody, seeing her friends, she gets so excited on these days,” said Buck.
“The benefits are incredible. You see patients that are being really quiet, and Zelda comes up, and especially the stroke patients, they’ll move that affected arm over,” Yowell said. “You can see the smiles start when Zelda comes in, and you can see her smile.”