Emma is the third therapy dog owned since 2006 by Richard Schad. Emma makes weekly visits at Exempla Good Samaritan Hospital, and with special needs kids enrolled in the Buddy Break program. Emma is also a comfort dog with FEMA.
Schad, who has been an agent with Farmers Insurance for the past 38 years, is an evaluator with Pet Partners and also active with Colorado Sheltie Rescue.
He and his wife, Karyn, who recently celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary, made a donation to Jewish National Fund in Emma’s honor as part of the MisPAWcha™ campaign, which allows Jewish pet owners to mark pet birthdays and adoption anniversaries, or just to say, “I love you” in the universal language of giving.
One pet each week is selected from those photos received from donors to be recognized as the ‘Rocky Mountain Jewish Pet of the Week’. For more information, visit www.Chavura.com/MishPAWcha.
Here is what Schad wrote about Emma in nominating her to be Rocky Mountain Jewish Pet of the Week:
Emma lays on the bed of a cancer patient; the gentleman is at the end of fourth-stage. Emma’s tail wags gently next to him on his bed, and her eyes are filled with love for this man as he scratches behind her ears. Emma creates a bridge, a safe crossing to a place of compassion, tolerance, and understanding. Our therapy dogs are the lubricant for conversation, and he talks to Emma, to me, and his family in his hospital room.
“We think we have so much time in the beginning and besides, we’re so thrown off course by the diagnosis, saying the right things and having the tough conversations aren’t even a consideration. Then there was the planning of what comes next. Will there be surgery, will there be chemo, and how will that fit into my days that used to be filled with stuff? Before I knew, weeks and months and more months and all of a sudden I had been celebrating surviving cancer for over a year. Maybe the docs were just plumb wrong; maybe there will be more time than they thought.”
He says, “Maybe” again straight at Emma, and Emma appears to nod her head, and then the man continues – “And the conversations are put off again because time seemed to be on my side.” The other members of his family in the room do not speak. There is no one in his family not crying. No words other than this man’s. Much was said in our silence.
Holding Emma’s head in his two gnarled hands, he makes eye contact with my therapy dog, and there is that little dance of love between the two of them. He laughs with his lungs and throat, Emma with her eyes and tail. Emma’s eyes and love say, I am here for you. He scruffs Emma under her chin and around her soft ears, and then continues, “Try to imagine my lung disease in an hour glass. When the sand started to slide through that narrow opening, there was just so much dang sand. God there was so much of it. There’s just so much time at the top of the glass. I hardly felt the pressure to talk about my life; the lives I shared, to my kids growing up, all those new little ones, and most of all, have those talks with my soul mate.” Tears flood from his wife’s eyes.
“I just did what I had to do, to give life another day. You know what I mean Emma?” Emma leans forward and plants sugars on his dry, chapped lips. Rare kisses from my therapy dog on the mouth while working. And then the man finally spits out, “Darn, darn-it-to-hell something changed; cancer made a move and I was caught off guard. How did I not notice the sand slipping at such a fast pace? Where did all the grains go?” Who forgot to turn-over the hour glass? I need more time.”
He sobs violently into Emma’s fur, and Emma nuzzles him, planting gentle kisses on his face. I keep from crying as my tears well up. He wipes his tears away and looks longingly at Emma, “Honestly, what’d you expect Emma, I’m only human.” My therapy dog’s eyes keep on saying, “I am here for you.” Curled up, her body leans into his body. I lift my dog off the bed, “Emma girl, it is time to go”, and we say our good-bye and take our leave.
Forget not that the hourglass is slipping for each of us every day. Forget not what is important to us. Forget not the love that made all of us, human and dog. That’s about all any of us can do. We all probably have things that need to be said.
God Bless you my therapy dog for the work you do.
I am so proud of the work my dog does – our visit was one of those times I felt my dog turn to me, and said, I’ve got this one covered.
Would this man have talked about his life without Emma’s visit? Maybe. But maybe the man was scanning back over his life, and remembering the many dogs he had owned, and the history of his dogs made him realize that his making history was almost over and he had not shared the lessons of each of those chapters, with the important ones in his life.
To participate in MishPAWcha™, email your pet photos and stories to: RadioChavura@gmail.com. Include a high-resolution digital photo and your contact details, including a phone number.
Those who pledge a minimum of $36 to JNF will be guaranteed that their pet will be recognized on the MishPAWcha™ website. Each pet will also be eligible for consideration as the Rocky Mountain Jewish Pet of the Week.
Pet photos, stories and donations may also be mailed to JNF at 6000 E. Evans Avenue, Suite 1-200, Denver, Colorado 80222. Be sure to include the word “MishPAWcha™” on your check, made payable to Jewish National Fund.
For any questions about MishPAWcha™, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Radio Chavura at 1-855-JEWISH-4 (855-539-4744). For inquires about JNF, contact the regional office at 303-573-7095.