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Pet Therapy
By Catherine Murphy, RN 

As a child I always wanted a dog. Any pet actually, something of my own to love and play with. My own furry little creature to keep me company on rainy days and blue Mondays. Over the years, my brothers, and sister did have various pets. However when you are third in a family of four siblings, you sit pretty low on the "pet Master" list. So Samson, Tweety, Smokey, Shakespeare, and a few unnamed worms became the "family pets". It wasn't until Dad had his first stroke that I finally, accidentally, became a pet owner. "Bailey" was an 8-week-old domestic short hair kitten. I got him for Dad. Everyone knew what great friends pets were for the elderly, and I believed that Dad would do very well with this adorable kitten. 

Well, to say they failed to bond just might be an understatement. Dad took one look at "the cat", and said, "just keep it away from me". I was happy to comply; I figured that the cat would grow on Dad. I even managed to get Dad to help me name "the cat". Bailey got his name from a favorite Irish drink of Dad's. You guessed it. Bailey's Irish Cream!!!! That done, I felt "bonding" was only a matter of time for these two unlikely pals. 

The funniest memory I have of Bailey involves Dad as well. It was a few months after Bailey joined the household, I was in the living room crocheting, and Dad was in his room (Dad likes to call his room "the inner sanctum"). Well I near fell out of the chair when I heard the terrible scream. I was certain Dad had suffered a heart attack. Running madly towards him and mentally reviewing my CPR drill, I was stopped in my tracks by the sight before my eyes. 

There in his entire splendor sat little Bailey, atop the back of Dad's easy chair. Both front paws, and chin were resting on Dad's head as Bailey sat watching TV!!!! Poor Dad was beside himself. But I knew then and there, that "true bonding" had begun. 

We had Bailey with us for 6 years before he died. It was a loss deeply felt by both Dad and myself. Not sure if it was the right thing to do or not, I quickly had Bailey replaced by well meaning friends. Simba and Chloe have been with me more than 4 years, but they continue in Bailey's footsteps. They provided companionship to dad when I had to be away at work, and added a calming peaceful aura to our home. When the stress of life seems overwhelming, they are here. And I can't begin to describe to you how much they have helped me as well, to cope with some of the feelings of isolation I have at times. Pet therapy works, I can attest to it personally, and highly recommend it as a wonderful complimentary therapy to your current plan of care.
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