TIDMORES RISING STAR COSMIC ZEPHYR, aka Zephyr, Therapy Dog with Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Centers view her in their commercial.
October 9, 2014
Zephyr and Willow are both doing really well and enjoying the cooler days. I would like to share another happy moment in the dogs’ life. Zephyr was the first to work with the young lady in the photos. I will call her Megan. Megan suffered a severe spinal cord injury in a car accident. When we worked with her the first time, she could not stand and had little control of her lower body. Zephyr worked with the therapists to help Megan with balance exercises in the gym. Megan really enjoyed working with Zephyr and Zephyr seemed to take an especially “gentle” and protective approach with Megan. The next week, I brought Willow to visit Megan. She had progressed a lot in the previous week. Megan has an incredible work ethic. She was standing with a walker, and had taken just a few steps. (I found this out later) Then along comes little Willow. Willow was very engaging and affectionate with Megan, being her usual goofy, lovable self. We played for awhile and then the therapist asked Megan to stand and take a few steps with her walker. I asked her if she would like to take Willow for a walk. Yes, she very much would like that. So I hooked up Willow’s leash and handed it to Megan so she could hold it and her walker at the same time (SOP for walking with a walker) and off we went with her therapist behind but not assisting in any way. That’s where things got strange. The staff, therapists, nurses and a doctor who just happened to be there stopped what they were doing and just watched us. I didn’t really know why, I just focused on Megan and Willow. I asked Megan if she would like to walk to the end of the hall and look out the window so I could show her what Willow and Zephyr ride in. She did, so we pressed on down the hallway with Megan walking slowly but quite normally. We stood at the window and I asked Megan to guess which vehicle was Zephyr and Willow’s. We laughed when she sure enough picked the Jeep!!! We then turned around and walked back down the hall. Megan kept saying, “I can’t believe I am doing this!” We had a small audience of awe struck staff as we returned. It turns out this was the first time Megan had taken more than just a couple steps. And to take such a long walk placing one foot in front of the other in a perfectly normal manner was quite stunning to all who saw it! Willow took it all in stride. She has learned to walk slowly and watch the front wheel of the walker to gauge her position and she does that very effectively and with exceptional focus. After we sat down, Megan enthusiastically said, “I want to do it again!!!” I told her she better rest awhile and not get too worn out all at once! We all laughed. The photo was taken by Megan’s aunt right after she sat back down from her walk.
The staff later briefed me on how miraculous this walk was after weeks of intensive therapy. I just feel so privileged to be a part of such momentous moments in a patient’s recovery. And knowing that the near magical skills of Zephyr and Willow make it happen.
Zephyr is now registered as an AKC Distinguished Therapy Dog. This is AKC’s highest therapy dog title. Willow just turned 2 and is quickly accumulating hours of service and a resume of exploits! I will title her soon.
I hope all is still going well with you. I keep up with your dogs on their website! The last litter looked really nice. I can’t wait to see how they develop.
Stay safe and healthy.
Below are pictures and notes that Zephyr’s owner sent to me, she is just an amazing girl!!!
1. Zephyr often has to climb onto a chair to get her high enough to interact with bed bound patients. She climbs onto the chair and then she must sit still while I scoot the chair close to the hospital bed. (Try that with any normal dog!!!)This is a critical skill. Some of our most amazing results have happened when a spinal cord or brain trauma patient is allowed to get up close and personal with a big, wet tongue!
2. This is a photo that ran with Zephyr’s story in the Oklahoma Gazette. This was the bonding period that occurred after therapy. I often give the patient a treat to give Zephyr as a reward for “all her hard work”! Zephyr inspires patients to work harder, walk further, stretch higher…. all while having fun!
1. This is just a funny photo where Zephyr allowed wrist bands to be placed on her ears. the wrist bands had been made to raise money to support a spinal cord patient’s recovery. Zephyr wore the bands on her ears while she worked with the patient. It even surprised me that the she didn’t shake them off. She seemed to understand that they were somehow an important part of the therapy. We got a lot of laughs that day!
2. I never “trained” Zephyr to use the equipment in the gym. She just seems to love doing it! She goes out of her way to climb on and “use” all the fitness equipment. If a patient throws a ball across the gym, Zephyr will go out of her way to walk down the parallel bars or over the step trainer (this photo).It is just a really cool characteristic of my girl that the staff and patients love!
1. Zephyr walking on the Jim Thorpe treadmill. She loves to do this and it inspires all the patients in the gym who are watching. I often tell the patients how she learned to overcome her fear of the treadmill when she was learning. Just like the patients must overcome their fears to progress.
2. Zephyr working at The Therapy Place, an outpatient therapy facility. During this therapy session, the patient kicks the orange kickball across the room and Zephyr retrieves it. This is an outstanding exercise for developing balance in both sitting and standing positions.
Below is a “Diary” of the story of a young man that with Zephyr’s help has made great progress. It will touch your heart.