Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mathew: The Dog with a Heart of Gold

By Marilyn Lind

Mathew, my first guide, was a love with a heart of gold. Not that Mathew is the only guide I've had, or currently have, with a heart of gold, but he was something special.

When I left for my class training at GDB, my dad wasn't sure I was doing the right thing. While I was in class he'd call me saying he didn't feel good. After I brought Mathew back home, my dad loved him and he understood what Mathew did for me. Mathew also loved my dad. They seem to have some type of bond separate from the bond Mathew and I held for each other.

One morning I received a call from my dad saying he was sick; my brother took him to the hospital. When I arrived, the doctor said that my dad only had a few days to live and he was placed in the ICU. During that time, Mathew and I would stay with my dad all day (Mathew as the first dog to ever be allowed in this ICU). My dad would pet Mathew and talk to him. One afternoon I told my dad I needed to find a green spot, and my dad responded by saying "Be careful." Those words - be careful - were the last words I would ever hear from my dad. He lost consciousness shortly thereafter. From then on, I'd put my dad's hand on Mathew's head and do a stroking movement. The nurses started doing the same thing when they discovered that my dad's monitoring rates would go down and that he would relax.

Not only did Mathew help my dad in those final days and hours, but I'm convinced that my dad also helped Mathew in a couple of ways. Prior to my dad getting sick, Mathew had been experiencing some health problems of his own. Mainly, his nose would start running for no reason. Our vet was unable to determine what was wrong with him, so I was talking with GDB's Dr. Patti to see if she could help solve the mystery of the running nose. During our time at the hospital with my dad, I'd always take Mathew out to the same place to relieve, and sure enough, his nose would start running.

After my dad passed away, we went to the funeral home. When we got into the building, Mathew's nose started running like a faucet. Immediately following the funeral, I got a call from Dr. Patti, saying she had set up an appointment for Mathew to go to Kansas State Vet School for diagnosis and treatment. I feel like this was my dad's way of helping his friend out.

It was finally determined that Mathew was allergic to a ground cover plant called hostice - which is prevalent in Kansas, but doesn't grow in Oregon where Mathew was trained. Mathew's allergy was so unusual that there wasn't anything that could help him out. Fortunately, a cousin of mine who lived in Oregon adopted Mathew; he and his wife treated Mathew like he was their son. When Mathew died, it was a very sad day for everyone. But we'll always have our memories of this special dog with a heart of gold.

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