I didn’t want to trivialize the devastating southern California wildfires by putting up my post today, but figured that we could all use a touch of positivity. Last Sunday about twenty teams from the People Animal Connection met at UCLA Medical Center for our annual caroling event. The spirit of the group is beautiful but as far as singing, and I don’t think I’ll be offending anyone, we suck. Hey, we’re not the PAC singers. Fortunately, the Scattertones, a student acapella group, joined us so we not only looked good, we sounded fabulous.
And you can only imagine how excited I was to have another excuse to decorate the Doods. At Halloween when we doggy dyed Gus purple and gold to meet the Lakers, I asked Marsha the groomer to be sure she had red and green for the holidays. Her thirteen year old son Ryan, their official colorist, was on the job again and outdid himself. Elbee and Gus looked like walking Christmas.
As we moved through the halls caroling, some of us lip-synching next to more talented singers, we brought holiday cheer all over the hospital. Families and staff were calling out seasons greetings. Patients were waving us into their rooms.
Maybe it was the red, white and green effect but Elbee and Gus did so many mini visits we kept losing our group. A patient, who had been resting quietly in his bed, saw them and burst out laughing. A woman standing in the doorway of her room asked if she could take their picture to show to her ex-husband. She explained that he was in a different hospital and they were competing to see which place had better therapy dogs!
ELBEE As if!
Another woman jumped out of her bed when she saw our group. She told us that the dogs had made her day and that she felt so much better. A few minutes later, as some of us were waiting by the elevator, she practically came running down the hall. With a huge grin on her face, she threw our her arms and proclaimed, “Im healed!”
Some of the interactions were much quieter. There was a shy, seemingly special needs little boy, who suddenly began petting the dogs and chatting. He retreated into his room for a moment but came right back out because he wanted a photo with them.
When we first arrived at UCLA, a young dad who was in the lobby asked if we could come up to visit his daughter. She’d gotten some bad news but she loved dogs so he thought they would help. Later in the morning when we reached her room, the dad was in there alone. His daughter had been taken to the ICU. He was still so appreciative that we’d stopped in and took a photo of Elbee and Gus to share with her.
As many times as I’ve taken part in the caroling. I never cease to be amazed at the joy it brings to so many people. Words don’t seem adequate to capture the mood and the spirit. I have also learned that although they may not sing, the dogs have the purest, sweetest voices of all.