A Comforting Canine
Emme knows who needs comfort as soon as she walks into a room – a skill strengthened by experience but ultimately intuition. The eight-year-old Bernese mountain dog became a certified therapy dog at the age of one (or seven, if you’re counting dog years) and her owner, Noreen Lyman, says she executes her role with excellence.
“She loves it so much,” Noreen said. “When she sees me and my husband, Craig, putting on our volunteer smocks, her tail starts wagging and she starts whining excitedly. She jumps into the car and is eager to get to work.”
Emme frequents INTEGRIS Edmond, Arcadia Trails Center for Addiction Recovery, and The University of Central Oklahoma, offering her peaceful presence to high-stress, often scary situations. Noreen says her role is simply to provide the transportation. Emme does the rest.
“Emme spends time with cancer patients undergoing chemo, with people experiencing mental health crises, and she is sometimes there for end-of-life visits,” Noreen explained. “She also goes to UCO every week to love on the students there. They all look forward to it so much.”
Emme’s visits are as memorable as they are meaningful. “I can’t tell you the number of times we’re out and about and someone comes up to me with a picture on their phone of themselves with Emme,” Noreen said. “One day a delivery man put a package on my doorstep. He started to walk away, but turned around to show me a photo of Emme with his daughter who was battling cancer.” Noreen then took a photo of Emme and the man, so he could show it to his now healthy daughter.
Though Noreen gives Emme all the credit, she and her husband bear a significant burden with their ministry, as they call it. “There are days that I am doing the best I can to hold it together until I get out to my car,” Noreen said. “I’ve seen some things that are hard to unsee. Some days I don’t feel like going, but each time I am so glad I went. Those are always the days someone really needed the visit.”
Noreen’s animals have gone on to be included in weddings and graduations. But it’s the more private moments that are most meaningful. Emme has been held by the hurting, become a pillow for those in pain, and stood by cancer survivors as they rang the bell. In every situation, Noreen says one thing is certain: Emme loves her job.
Noreen hopes others will be encouraged to join the ministry of pet therapy. You can contact Noreen by email at email@example.com.