The small white dog nestled its head in the curve of the boy’s neck as he rested his head on a pillow. In the background, an identical pup looked on and also snuggled closely to the boy.
Those tender moments with animals can be the highlight of the day for anyone. But they’re especially meaningful when you’re sick.
This particular boy has dealt with more than his share of illness in his short life. A loving family and medical care have helped him through it and so have these two dogs.
Shan Benson is a mother of three boys in California. The family adopted the two puppies but three days later they learned that the youngest boy, Jack, had cancer.
Shan knew this would take all of the family’s energy and then some. “I thought maybe we needed to return the pups,” she said in a post on Facebook.
In the end, though, the family decided to keep the furry ones. The parents thought the dogs would bring joy to all three kids as they dealt with this difficult situation.
That instinct was affirmed many times over as Jack asked to have the puppies with him when he felt sick. As Mom walked in one morning to check on Jack, her “heart grew full” when she found him and the two dogs curled up together with the one resting its chin on the side of Jack’s neck.
Research has demonstrated the positive impact of therapy dogs on patients dealing with cancer. Among the benefits are providing relaxation and comfort, a distraction from pain, and the motivation to get better.
Of course, most dog owners don’t need scientific research to tell them this. They’ve already experienced first-hand the healing that dogs can provide.
Shan posted the photo of Jack sleeping with the dogs on Facebook. It has since gone viral with roughly 44,000 likes so far, and many have commented to share their own stories of a dog who helped a loved one through cancer treatment.
“He got my little boy through the toughest parts of treatment,” one mother said in describing the relationship between her son, who had cancer, and the family dog. “Best friends.”
And many were thrilled to hear Shan’s recent update to the original post: Jack is doing very well. “Jack … is now a TWO TIME cancer survivor and is living and loving life to the fullest with his two puppies,” she wrote.
“May he continue to heal,” one woman responded to the news. “God bless him and your family and the two special pups.”