My Dog Brings Me Joy Amidst Cancer and COVID-19

Despite cancer and the COVID-19 pandemic, my dog helps me find joy in the little things in life.

I have a little Jack Russell mix named Davina who is temporarily helping me and alerting in the house. She is not trained or allowed to go out in public like my first service dog was, but is wonderful at letting me know when someone is at the door, when my coffee is pouring, when my phone is buzzing and all those soundsthat I miss being deaf.

Perhaps the most important thing she is teaching me, however, is joy! She is better therapy than any psychologist and helps me more emotionally than anything or anyone else. She is more curative in many ways than chemo!

Her name should be Joy because she exhumes pure, adulterated happiness all the time. She gets excited about everything. When I come home after leaving her, she jumps up and down and zooms around the apartment because she is so happy to see me. When I mention a treat, she goes around in circles. If I talk about going for a walk, she runs all over before I put on her leash.

She — along with age — has taught me something very important: don’t just celebrate the big events like weddings and births and family holidays.These great and important milestones keep us going — the COVID-19 pandemic taught us that. But Davina teaches me that every single day is full of events to celebrate and savor. The morning coffee on the patio, the call or text or email from a friend, the walk and enjoying nature, the sinking into a good book are all events to make me happy.

My first dog, Sita, who I had for 14 wonderful years and will always miss taught me calmness and serenity. Davina teaches me joy. Every dog who is one of God’s creatures has something to teach us!

Cancer survivors have a lot for activities they can no longer do. I am very sad because I am not able to fly to visit my family, go to any large gatherings, attend plays and concerts or go on cruises. So Davina came into my life at just the right time. I can find joy in lunch with friends, morning coffee, book club meeting, church meetings and television. No, I do not zoom and jump but I can find joy. What a wonderful lesson to learn!

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