Angel By My Side

Golden Retriever Mercedes delights cancer patients who need a lift.

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For the past nine years, I’ve had a special angel by my side in the form of a sweet, caring Golden Retriever named Mercedes – Sadie for short.

I call Sadie my angel because she came into my life at a time when I needed a lift. I fought through several back surgeries and a fearful bout with cancer (which I beat), and I’ve been left with chronic pain. Sadie’s attention somehow heals me physically and mentally. She is my best friend, therapist, healer and caregiver. She taught me what life should really be about.

I discovered PAWS for People, a local pet-therapy organization, and I learned that I could share my special canine friend with others in need, and help anyone who could use an angel, even if just for an hour.

It’s been almost four years since we became a PAWS for People therapy team. In that time, many people have been blessed by visits from Sadie, who seems to have a knack for serving whoever needs the most help.

Although we’ve spent time with many people – from young children to those in eldercare – the place where I feel we have the greatest impact is the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center in Newark, Del. Here, we visit people while they receive chemo infusions. Some are there for the first time and are terribly afraid. Some are long-timers: tired, sick and weary from the toll chemo takes. Sometimes, the doctors and staff seem to need the most care.

Sadie visits them all in turn, sharing her sweet disposition and soft fur. Somehow, she knows exactly who needs her brown-eyed gaze, who needs a gentle nudge, who needs a lot of attention and who needs to be left alone. I still watch in amazement as Sadie illuminates a room and touches the hearts of those who appear to need an angel.

I think it was the right decision to share Sadie with others. When we are together, helping people with far greater challenges than what I’ve faced, everyone gains. My chronic pain becomes less than at any other time of the day. I feel blessed to have this angel by my side and to be able to share her healing spirit with the world.

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