“I had no idea of the depth of love, emotional support and companionship that a dog could bring.”
Jason Bradford is a holistic healer and massage therapist who owns a company called Body, Mind & Spirit Works in Philadelphia.
While Bradford heals people for a living, he has been in bad health in recent months. His health battles initially put him in a very dark place, but he found a light at the end of the tunnel – in the form of a tiny Chihuahua puppy.
A Fateful Encounter
Bradford was battling a slew of ailments, including high fevers and malnutrition. He required a lot of medicine, and was unable to eat solid food for weeks at a time.
One day, Bradford sleepily hopped on Facebook after not being on there for some time. While scrolling, he saw a post about a woman who was fostering a dog nearby, and the dog needed a home.
Without really understanding why, and against his fatigued body’s need for rest, Bradford found himself jumping up and getting dressed.
He said he just knew he had to get on his bike and meet this dog immediately.
Bradford couldn’t really explain his urge. He had been considering a cat to keep him company, but never a dog. Yet for some reason, he needed to meet this puppy. He said there was no logic involved, only instinct.
Upon meeting the puppy, Bradford fell in love instantly. The tiny dog fit into one hand.
Treading the Same Path
This dog had an interesting story, one that resonated deeply with Bradford. He had suffered through and survived parvo. Parvovirus is a dangerous virus contracted by dogs, and can be fatal. It is almost always fatal to puppies, whose immune systems cannot handle the attack.
Only the symptoms of parvo can be treated, and it can take several weeks or months for the dog to regain health.
Bradford came to understand that this puppy fought an immense battle to be able to live through the ordeal. At 5 months old, he weighed only 2 pounds. He had been fighting parvo since he was 1 month old.
The puppy still required additional, ongoing care to fully heal. For reasons he says he could not understand, Bradford just knew he had to adopt this dog.
Luckily the shelter, ACCT Philly, approved the adoption, and the journey of healing and love began for the ailing pair.
Bradford named the dog Maximum LaRue – Max for short.
At first, Bradford had to keep Max hydrated using eye drops. Max was still weak due to being unable to eat solid food – a struggle Bradford knew well.
A Lot of “Firsts”
Because Max had been quarantined at such a young age, there were a lot of things he hadn’t gotten to experience yet. These became special moments for Bradford and Max to experience together.
Bradford enjoyed seeing Max revel in finally being able to eat and being allowed outside.
And then the day came when Max got to finally play with another dog – something he had to be deprived of while still shedding the virus.
Bradford introduced Max to his friend Chloe’s dog, and it was a magical moment.
Bradford said it brought tears to his eyes to be able to watch Max interact so inquisitively with another animal. He was finally just getting to be a dog.
Bradford reports that the pair started to sync up in a lot of ways. If he drank, Max would drink too. If Bradford could work up the energy to prepare food, Max would eat, too.
Max needed extra care, and Bradford was able to give that to him. He understood exactly how Max was feeling, and Max helped Bradford to be stronger than he sometimes wanted to be.
Because he could constantly feel love and gratitude from Max, Bradford had an extra push to do things he needed to do despite feeling too weak.
Bradford got a bit weaker after he adopted Max, but it was Max who helped him pull through. Bradford says Max kept him from falling apart during this part of the journey.
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On days when Bradford couldn’t manage to get out of bed, he knew Max still required his care. So he did it.
Sometimes when he was bent over in pain, Max would lovingly nibble his ears, and that gave Bradford the morale boost he needed to take the dog out or make himself eat something.
Max takes precedence over Bradford’s condition. Together, they are being healed and healing each other.
Bradford says, “Before Max, I had no idea of the depth of love, emotional support and companionship that a dog could bring.”
“It was not until I, myself, went through a challenging experience and needed support, that I was able to understand how healing an animal like this could be.”
Dogs help us heal in so many ways – emotionally, physically, and developmentally. They help people through depression and through physical obstacles, and Max proves they can help us recover from illness as well.
If you or someone you know is facing a struggle in life, consider visiting your local animal shelter to see if fostering or adopting a dog could be a good option in helping the healing process.
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