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Karen B. London
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Lending Your Dog To Those In Need
Does your dog spread cheer?
Finley brings joy wherever he goes

A friend of mine was telling me that her parents had recently lost their old dog and were really suffering with the grief and the quiet house. To help her parents, my friend and her husband loaned them their dog for a week of “dog therapy”, which really helped them out during part of the time between when their dog passed away and they adopted a new dog.

Now, I must assure you that my friends' dog is very comfortable at the parents’ house, which is a two-hour drive away from them. They take care of the dog when my friends travel for work, and the dog also spends a lot of time there during weekend visits and holidays, too

My friends said they really missed their dog, but that it felt good, too, to help out because they felt like her parents needed to have a dog present more they did at that point. Obviously, if this visit would have been stressful to the dog, I would have been opposed, but since the dog loves to be there, I think it was a lovely gesture. “Loaning out love” is such a kind and giving act.

Has your dog every gone visiting just to cheer people up?

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

photo by Andrew Lemoncello

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Submitted by Blessed Mama | July 9 2012 |

I happen to be the "Blessed Mama" who was the recipient of this extremely unselfish act of love during our grieving from the loss of our 14 year old Welsh Terrier, Teddy. My daughter and son-in-law have the kindest hearts and generous spirits. Even though they missed Finley, they knew he was the best hope of getting us through a very difficult time that week. It brings tears to my eyes how "blessed" I am that they did this act of love for us, even though it meant them missing their sweet Finley that week. Your photo caption was perfect, "Finley brings joy wherever he goes." He truly does! Thank you Andrew, Julie, and Finley, for your thoughtfulness and love that helped so very much!

Submitted by Max's Mom | July 9 2012 |

My dog has not gone to visit, but when my 13-year-old collie passed away a few months ago, my other dog and I were the lucky beneficiaries of several sleepover visits on the part of our doggy friends who normally come over when their parents are away. I know that neither one of us would have made it through that terrible period without our canine friends and their understanding and compassionate guardians.

Submitted by Bunny | July 10 2012 |

When we lost our dog, we weren't ready to adopt for 7 months. During that time of grief and healing, we were fortunate to have two relatives willing to let us keep their dogs instead of boarding them. My retired parents live with us, so we had someone at home to play with with the dogs all day. And we were all grateful to have the dogs to comfort us during our loss.

Although we have never loaned out our own dogs, we did let a friend who had lost her dog stay in our home to house sit and dog sit after she lost her dog. We also have brought our dogs to the Veteran's Home to visit the residents.

Nothing heals a broken heart like the unconditional love of a dog.

Submitted by Anonymous | July 13 2012 |

If you don't have a friend that can lend you their dog, you can "foster" for a rescue group or shelter until you are ready to add a new member to the family. Fostering helps the grieving person and helps to save a life of a shelter dog, and opens a space in a rescue to save another dog. Most times, if you become attached to your Foster pet, then you get first choice if decide to make the foster your forever pet!

Submitted by Katrina Selby | July 23 2012 |

We've been fortunate enough to have three Standard Poodles grace our lives. Our first 'fella' was named Key Largo, Largo for short. We adopted him at age 5, full-grown, house-broken, fixed, and well-mannered. My husband had struggled with Asthma & allergies & had never had pets, so this hypo-allergenic breed fit the bill, and a 'ready-made' order was perfect for us.

Before Largo adopted us, he was loaned out to families considering a poodle as a pet & doing their allergy test. We were told that he'd spent time with a family with small children. He developed a love of junk food, especially Peanut Butter & cookies. He could hear an Oreo bag being open, no matter how quietly, no matter where he was in the house. He was the most loving, kind and noble dog there ever was (except yours, of course!). He crossed the "Rainbow Bridge" last year in October, but his spirit lives with us still. I'd like to think that he's running nimbly again following his nose through the fields chasing adventure!

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