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A Tribute to SeBastian: A Therapy Dog

He started out as a typical, cute as a button, Newfie puppy that I needed to make my life feel complete. Little did I know how much he would impact my whole life and the lives of so many people he would come into contact with. After all, he was my fourth Newfie, I know how special they are, but this one………the most spiritually powerful one that I have known, I had no idea there could even be this kind of a spiritual connection.

He was willing to help me no matter what I needed, and it’s like he seemed to connect to my thoughts and just know when I needed help. He was very comical, rolling his eyes up every time I announced “I’m going to hug you”….similar to what little kids do when they have overly exuberant hugging grandma’s.

He was nick named “little king Tut” at horse shows……if you can imagine a little fluffy puppy with paws so large he’d stumble over them. Then I would set up a soft sided crate, with sheep skin bedding and 1-2 fans blowing on him. He would not leave those fans. He found joy and peace in everything he did.

I became very ill (multi system failure, lungs, kidneys and liver) and was hospitalized for a long time in ICU. Luckily, a friend of mine, Leslie Harris, fostered him until I was well enough to come home. He was only 2 years old when I became ill.

It was when I returned home that I realized exactly what a special “pup” he was. Foolishly, I was walking with him late at night (I’d been told NOT to go for walks etc as I was just learning how to get my balance etc. I had a right drift that often made me fall ), I stumbled on the sidewalk and could not get up, physically impossible. This young dog sat next me, and then he laid down next to me, I put my arm across his shoulder and he sat up, bringing me to my knees. Then he gently stood with me balanced on him and I was able to stand. That was when I realized he was very special!

It was several months before I was able to get up if I stooped down. That was how I measured when I was getting stronger. I would stoop by a hutch so I could pull myself up….SeBastian didn’t like that way so he tried to get between me and the hutch so HE could help me get up. That is how we did it from then on.

He was always trying to be helpful. I always thought that our bond was so different because he was an only K-9 child and I was a single K-9 Mom. So we counted on each other for everything. He needed me as much as I needed him. I took him for his CGC testing. Without him taking a class, the judge said “he is so tuned in to you, I’ve not seen this attentiveness without a dog taking the classes.” She encouraged me to go for some obedience titles (I’d titled all my other Newfies in Obedience).

I decided I wanted to share SeBastian and his caring ways with others. So I took him to Miami Valley Pet Therapy Association classes when he was 7 years old. They were held at Southview with the most awesome instructor, Hether James, and evaluators Iris Carter and Ginger. There SeBastian and I formed some great bonds/relationships with many people in mvPTa. Thus our pet therapy career began.

SeBastian seemed to thrive on meeting people and helping people to feel better. We went to St Leonard’s health care center, and Hospice of Dayton. It was during this time, that I decided to give him his own Facebook page (Sebastian Cares) as many family members of patients wanted to follow where he was going. I still have several deep friendships from doing those visits. The most memorable visit was when we did a visit for Hospice to a nursing home for a gentleman whose very last wish was to be able to visit/see a dog. We were there, when the patient died, I held his hand with SeBastian’s leash in it, and SeBastian just laid quietly at the side of his bed. That was when I realized just how much pet therapy means to people. It not only benefits the patients, but it also benefits us as handlers.

SeBastian turned 11 on 2/27/2013 and he left for the Rainbow Bridge 3/18/2013. The impact of how much he affected peoples life could be seen the few days before his leaving us. He had many visitors from Hospice, dear friends from mvPTa, and friends of his that knew him when he was “little King Tut.” One person who had never met him, but followed him on FB, came to see him and meet him and say good bye. Larry, who became SeBastian’s Dad in ’06 said that SeBastian had renewed his faith in humanity, by the reactions of people when they met him, and the way he responded to people.

SeBastian lived his life to help others, near or far away. It amazes me to this day how he affected so many people that never “met” him. After his death, the out pouring of support In cards and memorial items from people in other states that he’d never met, truly made me realize the scope of how much he had really touched people’s lives. That is when I realized that I should celebrate the most awesome 11 years I had with him and try not to dwell on how many months he’s been gone. I love you buddy, and miss you with all my heart and then some. Thank you for blessing MY life.

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