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Aug. 10, 2011

The Wally Diaries: Where Is Wally?

by Ally Ruchman

Click to enlarge images

By Ally Ruchman, Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School

Wally in the hospital with a feeding tube coming out of his nose.

Last week the phone rang off the hook for Wally. The hospital, patients, doctors, and friends all requested his presence. He wasn’t available. Where was he, they wondered? Wally was sick. Deathly sick, and ended up in the critical care unit of our local animal hospital.

Wally suffers from Addison’s disease, a chronic and rare endocrine disease where the adrenal glands produce an insufficient amount of steroid hormones. It can be life-threatening. We didn’t realize that he had ingested something outside that eventually became entwined in his small intestine, resulting in profuse vomiting. Wally ended up needing emergency abdominal surgery on Tuesday afternoon. Complications followed because of his Addison’s. But Wally being Wally… somehow found the strength to pull through. Friday evening we brought him home.

Throughout his ordeal, I was there for Wally. Whenever there was a window of visiting time, I went to the hospital. It was wonderful to see him but frightening to witness. A fragment of his normal self, he still managed to whine hello to me during each visit. I could see the pain in his eyes and much of his fur was shaven. His skin was irritated and a rash covered most of his belly. He could barely stand. I felt that my visits made a difference in his recovery. I was providing a blanket of hope for his return home. With every visit, I realized just how magical Wally was. He had constantly provided exactly this hope for the past three years to hundreds of patients.

It made me reflect upon the blanket of hope that Wally had provided for me. A few years earlier, I had contracted pneumonia. I was physically weak. But Wally did not shy away from me. He did the opposite. Every day his chocolate brown eyes and wagging tail brought a smile to my face. Watching him sleep next to me took the edge off of my pain and gave me a different perspective on life. I focused on the little things in life that I could control and hoped that my body would begin to mend. Slowly, it did.

I feel blessed that I could return the gift that Wally gave to me and others…the gift of patience, hope, and distraction.

Read previous entries in the Wally Diaries:
Meet Wally the Therapy Dog
Training a Therapy Dog
The Big Test
It isn’t magic…it is science!
The Best Part of Dog Therapy….The Patients.
Wally’s Nose…Knows
Lounging in the Library
_______________________
Ally Ruchman is a junior at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School in Rumson, NJ. She loves animals, reading, science, and traveling.

About Ally Ruchman

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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