The healing effects of pet therapy have been widely documented and it will be introduced at Mater Dei in the near future.
A pet cabin, complete with an indoor and outdoor area, will be built on the hospital grounds next month to allow patients to receive visits from their pets.
The project is the brainchild of Sarah Cachia, the mother of Jacob ‘The Titanium Man’, who came up with the idea back in 2013 after realising that her son’s dog couldn’t visit him in hospital back.
It is being carried out in collaboration with the youth organisation JCI Malta.
“It was his only wish and, as his mother, I couldn’t make it happen,” Sarah said. “It was devastating enough that I had lost all my power to make him well. As mums we kiss them better and promise them all will be OK. I lost that power, but surely this one simple wish to see our family dog ….surely as his mum I could make his wish come true!”
“He couldn’t see Peanut because dogs are not allowed in the Hospital. I asked the nurses and Doctors… There must be a room where they could meet. There wasn’t, but after much begging and pleading we were finally allowed to meet outside in the cold at the busy main entrance of Mater Dei Hospital.”
“We propped my son up with pillows in his wheelchair. He was too limp to hold his head up or even sit on his own. We excitedly wheeled him out to meet with our freshly groomed family dog.”
“Peanut didn’t recognise his ‘brother’ at first until the sobbing frail skeletal boy called out his name. There was no holding Peanut back as he jumped onto my son’s lap licking him frantically ….tail wagging with utter joy.”
“As we all wept tears of joy, after weeping tears of heartache and pain for months, finally we shared a moment of pure happiness! As we wept, at the back of my mind I kept thinking this wasn’t right.”
“He had more of a chance of getting sick from passers-by or the cold than from our dog. One day …one day I thought to myself. One day I will make that place to go!”
That one day has finally come, with the start date for the project scheduled for the end of May. Health Minister Chris Fearne has promised €4,500 and the Cachias have raised a further €4,000 from donations.
However, they are still requesting more donations to see this pet therapy project over the line. A dog walk will therefore be held on 11th May, with the starting point being Jacob’s Brew in Marsaskala. Dog owners are being asked to donate €5 per dog and will be given complimentary hot beverages, cake and dog treats.
“Come along and join us. Let’s walk together as one to make a difference,” the event page reads.
Cover photo: Photo of dog and patient: www.elderlymanagement.com