Dying man sees huge improvement after being reunited with cherished dog

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Friday, October 17, 2014

For one terminally ill patient, no hospital treatment could improve him quite like a visit from his dog.

James Wathen, 73, is a terminally-ill patient at Baptist Health Corbin in Corbin, Kentucky. His body frail and spirit weak, hospital staff were having difficulty improving Wathen's condition. But Wathen whispered that he was missing his beloved one-eyed-Chihuahua named Bubba, the nurses leant forth their greatest efforts to reunite Wathen with his dog.

Nurses traced Bubba's trail to the Knox-Whitley animal shelter, where they learned that the dog had been placed with a foster family after Wathen was admitted to the hospital. Bubba too had been showing similar signs of emotional grief after being separated from his owner. On Saturday, October 11, the nurses finally were able to reunite Wathen and Bubba. Wathen began to perk up, and was emotionally lifted as he pet and played with his dog.

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"When bubba was handed to James he started to cry and then Bubba started to snuggle James and it makes you realize that animals are not just pets they are loved ones," Deanna Myers, Director of the Knox Whitley Animal Shelter, wrote on her Facebook page.

Wathen's reuniting with his dog greatly lifted his spirits, and the hospital is working to make sure he gets regular visits with Bubba.
Photo/Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter

The visit has seemed to do wonders for Wathen. Nurses reported the next day that the patient seemed like an entirely new person, eating and sitting up when he wasn't prior to the visit. Baptist Health Corbin previously did not have a pet visitation policy, but after seeing the positive impact Bubba had on Hathen, the hospital is working to ensure the patient will have regular visits with his cherished friend.