Veterans, smiles and a dog named Honor


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In early January the VA Medical Center in Muskogee, Oklahoma, became a brighter, cheerier place with the arrival of its newest staff member.

Her name is Honor, and she’s only 18-months-old.

“Patients smile when they see her coming,” said 34-year-old Terri Woodworth, Honor’s co-worker.  “All day long we make regular rounds to the chemo, palliative care and inpatient psych units.  We walk around the entire medical center to visit patients throughout the day.”

Honor is a happy, easy-going Golden Retriever who, without even trying too hard, seems to be a natural at instantly boosting everyone’s spirits.

“She can really sense people’s emotions,” said Woodworth, a staffer on the hospital’s social work unit. “She senses emotions and reacts in just the right way to make someone feel better.  Having Honor here, doing what she’s doing, is turning out to be better than I had ever imagined.”

The friendly canine always seems to hit the right note with every patient she sees.

Missing pets at home

“We were up on the psych ward earlier this morning,” Woodworth said, “and there was this Veteran sitting alone on the couch doing his crossword puzzle.  We asked if he would like a visit with Honor.  When he said ‘yes’ Honor just went right up to him, jumped on the couch and lay down next to him.  He was delighted.  He said, ‘Oh, I have a dog at home and I miss her so much…

“It’s sad,” Woodworth continued, “because a lot of our patients have pets at home that they miss.  So Honor is just what they need.”

She recalls one Veteran who had grown so despondent that he couldn’t even summon the will to get out of bed.

“He’d been in bed for three days,” she said.  “He’d already been on the sick ward for a week and no one had come to visit him.  But as soon as Honor and I walked into his room he brightened right up.  He got out of bed, sat in his chair and loved on Honor for a while.  His nurses were so happy.  It made me pretty happy too.”

And Honor, of course, is always happy.  All day long.

“She’s a morale booster, that’s for sure.” Woodworth said.  “And she’s changing lives here.”


Author: Tom Cramer, VHA Digital Media

Photo by: Chris Beshears, Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System

Author

Tom Cramer

Comments

  1. Jerome Rodgers    

    Dogs are great! If humans have souls, so do dogs!

  2. Melissa Thompson    

    I loved this article! I sure would love to have a dog I could take to these place that would help Veterans like this. This was very moving for me. Love and kindness from a dog is irreplaceable.

  3. Richard    

    Only dogs can afford humans unconditional + regard, and maybe gold fish as in the movie “What About Bob”.
    Great article,
    Rich, MSW

  4. Jon Gainer    

    Great story. Honor is a wonderful name.

  5. John Platania    

    I always wanted to write a book call..”If animals could talk” Like they say, dog spelled backwards spells God, how true it is. They are a special breed of animal we love so much and they love us even more.

  6. Rev. David L. Rogers    

    Yep, Gold Dog!

    The canine social workers… Ever owned one?

    But golly how i was hoping that this one was also a video. They almost always have that happy look, and get out of the way of that tail!

  7. Edward Moczydlowski    

    Honor is ,
    being able to contribute to the defense of our people.
    Tank you for your service,
    no matter how big or small.
    It all adds up to a strong America.
    Service is not easy,
    and signing the paper is the last choice we made.
    We all made a choice to defend …
    and we all have conflicts of conscience.
    Honor is …
    signing up, and the guilt of all action is shared…
    by all who sign.
    We continue to serve, as this is our obligation to our nation of people,
    Honor is maintained . . . and well cared for.
    Thank you, Veteran’s Administration for helping me to stand when my family couldn’t deal with me anymore.
    You have my gratitude and respect.
    Edward Moczydlowski

  8. Mary Meyers    

    I have 4 dogs currently, all my babies, part of my heart. They hold me together through depression, nightmares, flashbacks, you name it. I am serious when I say I would die without a soulmate dog.

  9. Jerry Reitmire    

    muskogee….really least the dog is taken care of…how many millions did it cost…what about the honorable veterans with excellent rating….that spurious docs are attached to deny claims.

  10. Doraemon    

    I love cats more than dogs, they Are soo cute!

Comments are closed.