Names/conditions and other personal information from a Therapy Visit cannot be shared.
Chad Burgess, Carla Donovan-Burgess and Gopher are volunteers and do not officially represent any institution mentioned in these visits.
The experiences, conversations are true and really took place the names of persons, if given have only been changed to protect the privacy of those we visit.
"I have boxers, he's cute." Those were the first words little E spoke to me before quickly settling in next to Gopher for our visit. She has been one of the sweetest and most faithful visitors of Gophers the past few months, and what an amazing little girl. E always came to us with a smile on her face and a knowledge of dogs well beyond most children of her tender age, but like most children we visit she has been facing an illness much beyond her years. Her and her family never stopped amazing me throughout our visits, and her positive attitude was nothing less than contagious.
"Hey Dad, when I get better can I get a dog like Gopher."
"You know when I get better I am going to go camping and fishing, I have never gotten to go before, and I will be better soon and get to go next summer."
"He's cute, I love him, do you think when I am better, I can teach my dogs to be like him and come back for visits?"
Mom and Dad both confirming all things, without hesitation or even fear in their eyes, they knew she would be better, and this was nothing more than a bump in the road, a temporary illness that needed a band aid. The strength of the three of them would overwhelm me on more than one occasion, and on our drives home I would tear up for a few moments thinking about them and hoping that all her dream for the future would come true. In Little E's world there always was a future and it would be better.
She would come and visit Gopher at every visit, always with a smile and always excited to see him. I never got to see her whole face since she was always wearing a mask to protect her compromised immune system. Despite the mask you could always see the smile and sparkle in her eyes. She stroked Gopher and would work her way into a position where she would sit using his side as a back rest and Gopher would arch around himself around her making a perfect chair. Little E would sit there talking with Gopher or talking with me all the while stroking his neck, head and back. During our visits she would hug him many times with Gopher being perfectly accommodating
wrapping his head around her neck giving his best doggy hug. Following each hug she would give him the best kiss she could by pressing her mask into his fur and kissing the inside of the mask.
The last time Gopher and I would get to visit with E was also Hawaiian night at the facility, and what a night it was. The lobby area and our visiting area transformed to brightly colored rooms of streamers. music was playing, a DJ was playing music and engaging with the kids, and food was everywhere. It was a dreary evening outside and the spirit inside could not be more different than the activities within the facility.
E was having her caricature done when we arrived, and staff set Gopher and I up with Leis. Gopher and I then went over and said hello, and she gave him a pat over the wall and told me she would be with us in a minute. We worked our way through the crowd and settled into our typical spot in now a highly decorated room. Gopher was highly distracted on this visit due to the music, people and food everywhere. I seemed to be the only one to notice this as everyone who came up and loved him talked about how well behaved he was and loved him, but no one loved him more than E. She came up promptly after getting her caricature completed and adorned him with more leis, hugs, and her own special kisses.
Gopher and her spent most of the evening together. Gopher did one round of limbo with her, and even dance with her by sitting back on his haunches and letting her hold his front paws and sway together. He kept himself low and let her dance with him for many minutes and looked into her eyes, despite being several inches taller than her. E went off to do some crafts, and after craftily painting a box in the shape of a heart returned it to him stating "Look Gopher what I made for you." She then went off again only to return a little bit later with a sandal shaped ceramic box, craftily painted and even autographed. Gopher and I thanked her again, me verbally and Gopher by delivering a solicited 'kiss' on her cheek.
E has been one of many of faithful Gopher fans. Her attitude, and her families attitude for a situation that could easily overwhelm any one person left an everlasting mark on me. Her gifts to Gopher have been placed in a safe visible spot in my home to remind me of them and their strength.