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A New Pup Helps in a Recovery
Suleika Jaouad at home with her dog, Oscar.

Suleika Jaouad is a 25-year-old woman who has been battling leukemia and chronicling this in a blog, “Life, Interrupted,” for the New York Times. In the most recent installment she introduces her puppy, Oscar. Having been wooed by a therapy dog as she during her first rounds of chemo, she had longed for her own dog. As she writes about the effects of the therapy dog visits:

“For the first time since I had fallen ill, I didn’t feel like I was being treated as if I were made of porcelain. The therapy dog made me feel like a human first, and a cancer patient second.”

She had to wait some time after her bone marrow transplant before the doctors gave her the ok to get a dog, but she finally did. At first little Oscar (a shelter adoptee) was a little more “work” than she had expected—as puppies can be:

“Oscar, unlike my caregivers, doesn’t care that I’m tired, feeling nauseous after my chemotherapy treatments. Every morning between 6 and 7, Oscar scoots over to my side of the bed and begins the process of baptizing me with his tongue until I wake up.”

But it didn’t take long for him to open up new worlds for her and help in her recovery.

“Although I was the one who rescued Oscar from an animal shelter, it has become clear that he’s done most of the rescuing in our relationship. … When we leave my apartment, Oscar bounds ahead of me, tugging at his leash as he guides me toward the dog park. For the first time in a very long time, it’s not the cancer that leads. It’s Oscar.”

Do read her whole column here.





Claudia Kawczynska is The Bark's co-founder and Editor-in-Chief.


Anne Francey

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