Yesterday (3/8/12), when I got up I found Frosty nearly comatose on the futon on our enclosed porch. She had been sick in several places and was obviously in pain.
We gathered her up and rushed to the vet for the 7:30 opening. They took her right in and worked on her but her little Scottie heart, big as all outdoors, gave out, and she was gone by 8:30.
The hole in our hearts is enormous, but there were two things I wanted for my therapy girl: 1. that she not out live me—rather selfish, I suppose, and 2. that she not linger and suffer.
Frosty came to us as a happy and chubby little puppy in July of 2001. I had read an article on pet therapy, and I began to think that this might be something we could do together.
We went through two courses of obedience classes and a final course to prepare for the Canine Good Citizen test. It was a struggle with a stubborn little terrier, but Frosty passed the test in December of 2001, well before her first birthday.
In April of 2002, when she turned one year, she was accepted into Love on a Leash, a national therapy pet organization, and we became the inaugural team in the new therapy pet program organized in our local hospital, Wentworth Douglas Hospital of Dover, NH.
Frosty and I were on our own, and we felt our way along establishing our own rules and procedures for visiting with the help of the enthusiastic nursing staff. One of the best experiences we had visiting the hospital was when Frosty was asked to be the grand marshal for the Halloween parade at the hospital’s daycare center. She wore a nurse outfit custom made for her, and thus began the legend of Nurse Frosty.
When we moved to NC in the summer of 2003, there was no therapy pet program at the local hospital, so we began visiting area nursing homes and assisted living facilities. We visited at Sterling House, an assisted living home, from August, 2003 to March 6, 2012. In 2011, Frosty became the official therapy dog for our county Home and Hospice Care. We made home visits to hospice patients and visited every Monday morning at the Chemotherapy Room at the New Bern Cancer Center.
Everywhere Frosty went, she brought joy and smiles, especially in her nurse’s outfit, helping others forget their problems and infirmities if only for a little while. She had a natural sense of who needed her special brand of caring and could never pass a wheelchair, even an empty one, without checking it. She knew who her people were.
From puppyhood, Frosty had a delicate tummy. She had a kind of IBS. She was quite ill as a puppy, and it wasn’t until I found a food specially formulated for dogs with sensitive tummies that she was able to be an active, happy girl. I maintained a strict diet for her throughout her life, and I’m sure this is a large part of why she lived as long and as symptom free as she did.
Last September, she had a particularly nasty bout of Pancreatitis and it was touch and go for a while. She did recover and seemed back to her normal, happy self but in the back of my mind I worried that she might have another attack and not survive. While this recent attack was not exactly Pancreatitis, it was a severe intestinal problem and this time she simply could not overcome it.
Frosty had a wonderful and unusually long career as a therapy dog, and, while she was good at her job, she was also a great family companion. And, that is what I will remember most.
She was not a lap dog and cuddles were given and received on her schedule. Late at night with the lights out she would get in bed and, getting as close to me as she could, she would body slam me with her hip and settle in. Often I would wake during the night, and turn to her comforting presence. I will miss that.
Frosty loved water and especially the ocean. Her most favorite thing in the world was a trip to the beach. She would go in as far as I would let her not caring if the waves splashed her, and she would be soaked from head to toe. After the first soaking, she would invariably turn, come back to me, and with a smile look up at me, and head butt my legs as if to thank me for bringing her. I will miss those days.
As much as Frosty and I were bonded, she also loved her dad and looked forward to the late afternoon outdoor play times when he would growl and chase her. She would bounce happily around him pretending to bite his legs.
At Christmas, she and Tarquin always remembered their Christmas stockings and would be very excited when they were unpacked. I never hung them until a day or two before. Otherwise two little Scotties would hang out underneath them.
Over a long therapy career, Frosty and I had many adventures both humorous and poignant, and we met some real characters. Last February, I published: Frosty’s Story. Tails of a Therapy Dog which chronicles her career. It is available on amazon.com or through our own site: Ibdoggone.com. If you have an interest in pet provided therapy or would just like to read more about one very special Scottie girl, this would be a good read.
In addition, there are four Nurse Frosty children’s books also available on amazon.com as well as on ibdoggone.com. And, of course there is Frosty’s page on hampshirehooligans.com with photos and links to her many accomplishments and adventures.
And, so, I will whisper to my sweetheart one more time: Frosty, you were the bestest Scottie girl in the whole world.
Frosty Meadow Thd, CGC, e;sv, AKC Therapy Dog (4/10/01-3/8/12)