When 25-year-old Zachary Noble was hospitalized during his battle with Hodgkin lymphoma, the one thing he wanted more than anything else was a visit from his best friend, his dog Chase. Noble's aunt, Donna Jenkins, snuck Chase into the hospital's ICU, and was overjoyed at the effect it had on her nephew's mental and physical health.
Zachary succumbed to his cancer a few months later, but before he passed, he begged his aunt to help make it easier for other patients to see their four-legged friends.
In the fall of 2015, Jenkins launched Zachary's Paws for Healing. Working with the staff at Juravinski Hospital in Ontario, Canada — the same hospital where Zachary had been a patient — Jenkins launched a pilot program to help patients reunite with their pets, one visit at a time.
The staff at Juravinski Hospital realized that some patients were sneaking their pets into the hospital anyway, so they wanted to find a way to help them see their pets safely. (Photo: Zachary's Paws for Healing/Facebook)
It doesn't take a medical degree to know that a snuggle with a beloved pet can boost a patient's mood and even improve his vital signs. Pets don't care about bald heads, chest tubes or hospital gowns. They just want to see their humans and give them some love. It also helps patients to remember what's waiting for them at home. The visits benefit the pets too, helping the animals know that their humans are OK.
Since its launch last year, Zachary's Paws for Healing has helped around 30 pets visit their humans at Juravinski Hospital. Zachary's program is the first of its kind in Canada, and there are about a dozen hospitals in the U.S. that make pet visitations possible.
Jenkins told Bored Panda that she reached out to many of the U.S. hospitals for help in launching her organization. She noted that while several hospitals allow pets to visit, the rules and procedures required can be more trouble than they're worth. Zachary's Paws for Healing helps cut through the red tape so that the patients can enjoy their visit.
Jenkins is thrilled with the positive response Zachary's Paws for Healing has had at Juravinski Hospital, and she hopes it will inspire the launch of similar organizations around the U.S. and Canada.
As one of the patients who benefitted from Jenkin's program told CTV news, seeing your pets when you're sick is just "good medicine for people." Check out that visit in the clip below: