Mill Creek's Lady Abigail CGC, TDIEVA
04.10. 00 - 05.01.08
Breeders: Rosella and Don Motz of Mill Creek Mastiffs
Owner and Therapy Partner: Martha Rawls
Abby had just stepped off the 7th floor hospital elevator when she spotted a young boy being pulled in a little red wagon. He neither turned his head, lifted his arms to her, nor spoke. She slowly walked over to him and began to lick his feet. The boy's face broke into a smile.
This scene took place in a physical rehabilitation facility where Abby worked as a therapy dog, and was her initial introduction to Kevin, a young boy who had been in a car accident that resulted in his inability to speak or move. The physical therapist moved Kevin's hand to make patting and rubbing motions on Abby's warm fur. The only response Kevin could give was a beautiful smile. That was good enough for Abby. She stayed in the hallway with her new friend, visiting for another fifteen minutes before she had to go, but she promised she would see him later in his room.
After she finished her regular rounds, Abby found Kevin's room, where she met his grandmother and father. After seeing Kevin's big smile, his father promised him that he could get an "Abby puppy", if only he would get well. Everyone in the room knew that this would probably take a very long time.
Kevin was quickly added to Abby's patient list, and was scheduled for visits every two weeks. One day, she arrived at his side with a stuffed "Abby puppy" in her mouth, which was to be his very own puppy while he was in the hospital. She also brought lots of Abby stickers to place on the plastic side guards on his bed. Now she could be with Kevin all the time, even when she was visiting other patients or other facilities, or when she had to go back to her own home.
Gradually Kevin improved, and after a few months was able to reach out ever so slowly, and touch Abby gently with one hand. He still could barely move and wasn't able to speak, but his smile let her know how much he loved her. She would put her head in his lap when he was propped up in his wagon. Everyone could see that Abby and Kevin were happy together, and had become quite an item.
Finally one day, a long-awaited miracle happened. The hospital called Kevin's family to tell them that he had spoken his first word, his first word in five months. A nurse had gone into his room, and saw him holding his Abby puppy and studying the Abby stickers surrounding him. She asked him if he liked dogs, and he nodded yes. Then she asked him what his dog's name was, and to her amazement, Kevin spoke. "Abby," he said.
Abby went to see Kevin the very next day, and upon entering his room, discovered his grandmother, waiting to show her another surprise. When Kevin was placed in his wagon, he came close to her, touched her ever so gently, and said, "Abby, I love you." Abby responded in the best way she knew. She licked his arms and hands, covering him with kisses and saying "I love you too."
Abby continued to visit Kevin for several more months,while he continued to get stronger. When it was time for him to leave the hospital, he could move one of his arms well, and speak much more clearly. The hospital staff gave him a special party, which included a cake topped with Abby's picture. After Kevin's grandmother took lots of snapshots of the pair, Abby went to say goodbye for the last time. She washed kisses all over Kevin's face, arms, and legs. There was no doubt to anyone who witnessed these two together that Abby and Kevin shared a special bond that superseded all others, the bond of unconditional love.
Note from Louise
Abby's jobs included eight nursing homes each month, a public library 2 - 3 times a month, and various churches, schools, etc. upon request. She achieved the title of Therapy Dog International Exceptional Volunteer (TDIEVA), which is awarded after 350 therapy visits and is the highest title given by Therapy Dogs International. Abby completed 472 therapy visits.