The heart-warming story of how Assistance Dog Lady helped her client Lachlan navigate his time in hospital.
Earlier in the year, our 14-year-old client Lachlan had surgery. Lachlan’s loyal companion, Assistance Dog Lady was right by his side the entire time; from the moment the family arrived at the hospital until it was time for him to go into theatre.
As many of you may know, Assistance Dog Lady joined Lachlan and his family in February 2017. Over the years, Lady has helped Lachlan in so many ways and has become such an integral, loving member of their extended whānau. Lachlan’s parents are constantly amazed by Lady and her intuitive desire to protect and comfort their son. This was particularly evident during Lachlan’s recent visit to the hospital, where Lady was nothing short of incredible.
Throughout the day, Lady worked hard to let Lachlan know she was there for him. She remained at his side at all times, even as he was wheeled into theatre. Lady lay next to Lachlan on the hospital bed and only left again to join his parents in the waiting room once Lachlan was asleep.
Eventually, the whole hospital heard “Lady the Assistance Dog” was there. The nurses and doctors came for pats throughout the day. After Lady had been in the waiting room for about 20 minutes, a teenage boy walked in. He was just leaving recovery and about to go home. At the time, Lady was getting pats from two nurses. She watched the boy come in, walk across the room and sit in a chair. Straight away, she left the circle of pats and walked over to him. She gave him a quick sniff to check it was ok to be his friend, and then went in for pats. The 15-year-old boy immediately relaxed. They spent about 3-5 minutes together, and he was a different person by the end of it.
As soon as Lachlan stirred in recovery, Lady was brought in to be beside his bed. He was in and out of sleep for about 2 hours in total. During this time, she was always there watching. Once Lachlan eventually fell into a deep sleep, Lady wander off again to the nurses for more pats.
While Lachlan was in recovery, a young girl (around 7 years old) was wheeled in from surgery. There was only a curtain separating Lachlan and the girl, so you could hear the nurses, doctors, and her mother around her. Once the young girl was awake and having a drink of water, Lady popped her head through the curtain to say hello. She spent around a minute or two with the girl and her mum, cheering them up. Once she thought the girl was ok, Lady came back through to be with her family.
Before departing the hospital, the final task was to have Lachlan's IV line taken out. He was placed in a wheelchair and Lady stood right next to him so she could ‘supervise’ and make sure he was ok.
Lady will celebrate her 10th birthday in November this year. After a huge day's work at the hospital, she was exhausted and took herself straight to bed as soon as they got home. Later in the evening, her human sister Izzie went to check on her - Lady tried to lift her head to acknowledge Izzie and did a singular ‘thump’ of her tail with joy, but was just too tired to show any more excitement. Izzie left Lady alone to enjoy her well-deserved rest.
When the time comes for Lady to retire, she will "hang up" her jacket and spend her twilight years as a dearly-loved pet.
Around this time, the ADNZT team will work closely with Lachlan and his family to see whether there is a need for him to be matched with another Assistance Dog. For now, Lachlan and Lady remain an inseparable duo, and the very best of friends.