Senior Shepherd Teaches Doctor How to Heal
In taking care of Woofy, Emily learned how to take care of herself.
Emily + Woofy
When Woofy’s person was in hospice, Emily was there to give him a new home. Now they’re learning how to take care of each other, and to enjoy the little moments in life side by side.
"Taking care of Woofy is taking care of myself. When I am with Woofy, we are on dog time. We literally stop to smell the roses, and the trees, and the grass."
Wooferson — Woofy, for short — and I met when I visited a patient enrolled in hospice. He greeted me at the door and herded me upstairs to see his human. He leaned on me throughout the entire visit, tail wagging. That night, I went home and told my spouse I had met the most extraordinary dog. I left out the part about feeling a cosmic connection to Woofy because it seemed weird at the time.
Woofy’s human got sicker faster than the hospice team had expected, and he needed to move to a hospice center. His family told us that of all the arrangements that would need to be made, only one would truly matter — making sure that Woofy had a home. At first, I wasn’t sure I was ready to take on an 11-year old, 80-pound German Shepherd. But after a few days of thought, I took a deep breath and told the hospice staff, “Woofy has a home … with me.” His human died the next day.
Woofy has made the way I interact with the world healthier. Doctors are perfectionists by nature, and I can be pretty hard on myself. Woofy, on the other hand, loves me unconditionally. If a patient mentions a dog in their life … time out! It’s dog photo sharing time. The therapy dogs know they can come to my office if they need a snack break.
Taking care of Woofy is taking care of myself. When I am with Woofy, we are on “dog time.” We literally stop to smell the roses, and the trees, and the grass, and every dog in the whole wide world. It’s impossible to get stuck in my head with anxiety about work, the house, the world when I am on dog time.
I like to think I’m a woman of science, but I do think Woofy and I have a cosmic connection. Sometimes we just lie on the couch and look into each other’s eyes. I want to believe that knowing Woofy was safe let his human leave this world in peace. I am humbled that he thought I was the right person to be Woofy’s forever home.
Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Emily won Pet Peace of Mind in Salem, Oregon a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.