Unlike other service animals, a therapy dog provides emotional support instead of a physical action.
Not just any dog can be a therapy dog. It requires a lot of emotional stability that a lot of dogs simply don’t have.
Those dogs must be able to bond, at least temporarily, with everyone it comes in contact with. Every therapy dog must have a stable and calm temperament. Everyone who reaches for him will be suffering from a physical or emotional drama of some sort.
One little dog, in particular, exemplifies what it takes to be a true therapy dog. Baxter carried the title of “world’s oldest working therapy dog” as he brought comfort to humans in need until he was well past nineteen years of age.
The fact that Baxter could be so empathetic with humans is especially surprising because of his start in life. Baxter was rescued at six months of age after having been abused and neglected for most of his young life.
His body was covered with scars, his teeth were in terrible shape and he was heartworm positive. As Baxter got the care he needed, his personality emerged and he soon became her heart, his owner Melissa Joseph wrote on her website.
In a profile featured on People Pets, she described Baxter as “the most well-behaved, socialized and compliant” dog she’d ever met.
Joseph chronicled the most poignant moments throughout Baxter’s long career. She titled the book Moments with Baxter. Indeed, Baxter’s greatest moments came when he could connect with a human that needed him.
Watch the video below of one of Baxter’s last therapy visits. He brought peace to a woman who was on her deathbed. Baxter was so old that he could no longer walk on his own, but he could still feel the emotions of those around him.
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He could still connect in a special way with someone that needed support along the hardest path they would ever walk. Something very few other beings could provide.
But, Baxter could! When he was carried to the bed of a woman in the last hours of her life, his tail gently wagged.
He laid as still as possible, knowing that every movement could bring her pain. He laid his head on her chest, as she gently stroked him.
They both realized that they were nearing the end of their journey. They each took peace from the fact that they were not facing that end alone.
Sometimes, your family and friends cannot bring you the comfort and peace your soul craves. It only comes from having someone be there beside you that is there simply because you are sharing the moment.
Friends and family members bring their own angst, grief and personal issues with them. But, not a therapy dog…a good one like Baxter. He does nothing but opens his heart and let the love flow over both of you.
Baxter was given his eternal rest shortly after this video was made, making it especially poignant. We wish him Godspeed on his new journey. We are guessing that he’s already making the rounds in heaven sharing his peace and calm with everyone.
Considering the massive number of hearts he made lighter through his years as a therapy dog, he’s going to be a very busy little guy! Rest In Peace, Baxter, the peace you brought to so many during your life.
Source: We Love Animals