Miss RaeOften I receive wonderful stories and tributes from FTLTD Friends about their beloved canine companions.  I feel honored to be able to share the stories with everyone.  For so many of us, they touch us and we can connect in a way that non-dog people cannot.  Here’s a lovely, touching story of the incredible health benefits of our furry 4-leggers and some wonderful hospital staff going over and above the call of duty for a very sick patient.

This email was shared with me by Linda Cooper Beard and written by a friend of hers who was recently hospitalized and missed her dog very much… Enjoy!

I’m writing you this email to chronicle what I consider to be an extreme act of kindness bestowed upon me while a patient in your ICU unit at St. David’s North Austin Hospital. There were three hospital employees involved in this kindness and please mark their names well. Their names are Carolyn Schwartz, R.N., Hayle Gulilat, R.N., and Anna Marroquin, R.T. Here is the story.

I was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma of the uterus on April 10, 2013 during a complete hysterectomy. I was undergoing adjuvant chemotherapy and had completed 6 infusions of gemcitabine and 3 of taxotere. I was short of breath…dangerously so…during most of the time I received chemo. I began to run a high fever and was sent to St. David’s North Austin Emergency by my primary care physician with an unknown acute lung problem on July 16, 2013. Shortly thereafter, I was brought to ICU. After about 36 hours, it was decided that my lungs couldn’t handle oxygenating my body on their own and I was intubated for 5 days while the doctors searched for the problem. It was determined that I had a toxicity to gemcitabine and my lungs had filled with plasma. A regimen of steroids was begun and I came quickly to feel better. I attribute your ICU doctors with saving my life, as the condition is rare and often fatal. I will be thankful the rest of my life and it is a debt I can never repay. I know you health service personnel consider it all in a day’s work, but still…


Miss RaeI know Carolyn, Hayle, and Anna did not have to cook up the dog visit. They work hard for 12-hour shifts yet they made the time somehow. They did it because they care. They care not only for the technical details of nursing, but they care also about a patient’s mental and emotional state. To me, the extra work they did to reunite an old country girl with her fine companion and hunting dog is worthy of note.While EVERYONE in the ICU unit was diligent, kind, professional and knowledgeble, the three above-named employees seemed to go “above and beyond” on Tuesday, July 23. Carolyn and Hayle were the day-shift nurses in charge of me. They had noticed an 18 x 24 framed print of my dog Rae that my husband Alan had placed at the foot of my bed. They had also heard from other nurses how many tears I shed during my intubation (when I was awake) over the thought that I might never pet her again. I shed these tears mostly for her as I know and have experienced the single-minded love that a dog bears for her human. A dog actually LIVES to please and be with her human, and I was so worried because, according to my husband, Rae showed definite signs of lethargy and depression because I wasn’t at home with her. (I was also worried I might die and then where would Rae be?) So Carolyn and Hayle cooked up this plan to have Rae visit me briefly on the terrace outside of ICU. While carrying out her other duties, Carolyn planned and organized what equipment was needed and what help and what time the visit should occur. She got Anna involved, who procured the appropriate portable oxygen and mask. I was to call my husband to bring Rae up when everything was ready. (I had gotten the tubes out the day before and no longer felt I was at death’s door, but was swollen and weak and depressed and frustrated, inspite of the quality company of staff) Carolyn, Hayle, and Anna all three assisted me to the terrace along with the appropriate heart monitor, pulse-oximeter, and oxygen. Carolyn opened the door, went downstairs and let husband and dog in to see me. It was brief, but so sweet, and we women cried while Rae swirled in and out of the wheelchair foot pedals and continued to try to get closer to me. I am convinced that those doggie kisses I received all over my face and all over the oxygen mask are what kept me going toward recovery. I am convinced that the visit gave my beloved Rae hope and reaffirmed in her simple little mind that her “mommy” would be returned to her.

I’m requesting that you use what authority you have to make sure these three employees of this fine hospital receive any/all accolades as might be available for them. I’m requesting that you copy this email to the “higher ups” in the St. David’s network so that these three employees receive the recognition they deserve. The ICU unit at St. David’s North Austin Hospital is as quality a facility as I’ve ever heard of or been around. I commend you on a job well done. But Carolyn Schwartz, Hayle Gulilat, and Anna Marroquin are true gems who went “above and beyond”.

Yes, dogs truly are beneficial to ones health in so many ways… <sniff, sniff>

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