Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ahava in the News

The following excerpt is from an article in the Abilene Reporter News (click on link to see full article by Brian Bethel)

Nellie Doneva/Reporter-News Olivia Brigham (left) watches her 9-month-old daughter, Ahava, work with physical therapist Elyse Perry (center), pet specialist Donna McGehee and McGehee’s dog Patricia III at the Hendrick Center for Rehabilitation. Ahava was born at 23 weeks and five days, instead of going the full 40 weeks, and needs to strengthen her trunk and neck muscles.

For Olivia Brigham, being involved in the pet therapy program at Hendrick Health System has been an “incredible blessing” on both sides of the coin. Brigham and her dog Gracey, a Chihuahua-dachshund mix, have been part of Hendrick’s program for years. Brigham was inspired to join the program after she was visited by a therapy dog while undergoing chemotherapy. “These animals just have a connection, and when they’re in the therapy program, they’re there for a reason,” she said. “It’s because they know how to love.” After her daughter Ahava’s premature birth almost 10 months ago, Brigham has seen the program from the other side — as the mother of a patient — and considers it no less profound. “She knew that dog was there to love her and be there for her,” Brigham said, recalling a recent therapy session with her daughter, who still struggles with issues such as muscle tone. Watching her daughter work with therapy dogs at Hendrick’s Center for Rehabilitation has reinforced for Brigham the importance and profound nature of human-animal connections. “In her (Ahava’s) case, it’s a very, very neat, encouraging distraction to have a furry little animal there that is helping her use her muscles,” she said. “It wasn’t just someone just sitting there banging a toy or things like that — it was an actual dog that was wagging its tail. And I really feel like they were really communicating in ways even a therapist couldn’t.” To Brigham, it’s just more evidence of the healing potential of animals, something she’d already seen firsthand in her role as a volunteer. “There’s no way you can be on any side of this program and not have your life changed,” she said.

1 comment:

Angela said...

so awesome! very cool. so glad that she has other furry friends and most of all her amazing momma to go the extra mile a hundred times over to bring abundant life to the little (big) miracle Ahava.