Animals have the special ability to cheer us up when we are down. It’s like they have a sixth sense that alerts them to when we are feeling sick or sad and they jump at the chance to help us feel better.
I remember being in the hospital as a young child and a sweet golden retriever coming to visit me. I wasn’t feeling good and I was ready to be home, but seeing his smiling face and getting to pet him and talk to him for a little while made me feel so much better.
Thousands of patients and their families at Seattle Children’s hospital have also been able to experience the healing and cheering powers of a therapy dog, and it’s all thanks to a wonderful golden retriever named Abe.
Judith Bonifaci got Abe more than a decade ago to help her get over the heartbreaking loss of her previous dog. When she brought Abe home, she decided she wanted him to make a difference, not just in her life but in the lives of others too.
She started taking Abe to therapy dog training classes and he soon proved to be a natural. It often takes dogs three to four years to become certified therapy dogs, but Abe completed his training at just 14 months old!
Since dogs visiting in the hospitals have to be two years old, Abe started working as a classroom therapy dog at a local elementary school. Then, once he was old enough, he and Judith began visiting patients at the hospital, and they have been spreading joy and positivity ever since!
“Not only do patients and their families enjoy his visits, there are staff members we’ve come to know over the past several years who love seeing him,” Judith said.
Abe loves his visits, but after a decade of service, Judith started to notice he was slowing down. He doesn’t have the same stamina he once did. She decided it was time for him to retire so he can enjoy some rest and relaxation in his final years.
To thank him for his years of service, Seattle Children’s threw Abe a sweet retirement party so he and Judith could see the impact they have had on so many. The day was full of laughter and tears and lots of love for the beloved pooch.
Abe will now get some time to rest and relax while his two-year-old brother Jackie takes over. Jackie has some big shoes to fill, but we’re sure he’s up for the challenge!
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