In Whitley County, KY, James Wathern wasn’t doing so well. He had been in the hospital for many weeks at Baptist Health Corbin. A social worker who was working with Mr. Wathern realized that he was getting sicker because he missed his dog, Bubba, so much.
It turns out that when Mr. Wathern was taken to the hospital, his one-eyed chihuahua got out and was picked up by the local animal control facility.
The Chief Nursing Officer at Baptist Health Corbin, a wonderful lady named Kimberly Probus, enlisted the help of the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter to find Bubba. They found him, and a few days ago man and dog were reunited.
The people at the dog shelter reported that Bubba had been grieving too. He hadn’t been eating and was whining and pacing. Both Mr. Wathern and Bubba improved greatly after seeing each other again. Because of this miraculous moment, the hospital changed its policy and will now allow pet visitation.
Why? Because interacting with animals helps all of us. And, as evidenced by Bubba’s reaction, we help them too.
We already know that pet ownership can lower our blood pressure, help us relieve stress, make us feel less lonely and offer security to people living alone. There are also studies that say that the happiness levels in the brain raise considerably when a human looks into a dog’s eyes.
More and more studies are coming out saying that seniors, in particular, benefit from interaction with their pets. Why, one of my closest friends has a little dog that she talks to all day long. She spends most of her time by herself, but she says she never feels alone because she has little Honey there to keep her company.
Another friend of mine who I go visit in one of the assisted living facilities here in Knoxville says that when I bring Lucky, my little poodle mix, to visit, it’s the best day of the week.
Never underestimate the power of the human and animal connection. We need them and they need us.