Friday, April 19, 2024 -
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Furry friends

Whenever I’m stressed, I turn to my magic bullet. Literally turn my head to take in the calm-inducing visage of my Bark-André Furry stuffie.

Confused? Let me rewind. There’s an area of Twitter where only goodness resides. That sounds hard to believe, but when I tell you that this space is inhabited by pet accounts, you may find yourself nodding. Some of these accounts are cute more than anything else, but many are dedicated to bringing positivity to people’s lives, both virtually and in person. These are the therapy animals, who spend their days reviving low spirits, often visiting hospitals to cuddle sick patients.

Two of these — Winston Da Doodle and Bark-André Furry — also happened to be Vegas Golden Knights fans, which was how I came to befriend them. At first it was the kitschy fun of dogs passionate about hockey, but then I started to take notice of their — and naturally their bipeds’ — generous charity work, in particular the warm touch — and bright smiles — they brought to pediatric oncology patients.

I’ve had my own health struggles this past year, and one day I wrote Bark-André to thank him for his service. Were I in Las Vegas, I wrote, I’d be inviting him for a cuddle of my own. Shortly after I received the following message: “If you lived closer, I’d be there! If you’ll provide me your mailing address, I’ll send you one of my stuffies! We are #TeamShana.” A week later, the stuffie arrived.

What does it say about someone if his passing moves one to tears without ever having met him? When I read last Friday that Bark-André had passed, I was gutted. He helped, and continues to help, me and countless others, whether by rallying a fanbase or trying in whatever way possible to bring comfort to people who may be struggling.

It is truly a mitzvah what these dog owners do. It takes unbelievably kind souls to invest in training their animal to provide these services. In the case of both Winston and Bark, their bipeds have since added “little brothers” — Sir Oliver and Deke-Henri — to continue their big brothers’ work, the latter especially as Bark’s health was failing.

I can only imagine it is a synergistic relationship, therapy animal and owner lifting each other up through their joint work of helping others.

That’s the amazing thing about acts of lovingkindness, they are a spiritual boon as much to the giver as to the recipient.

Goodbye, Bark-André. You departed for the rainbow bridge leaving the world a much brighter place.

Shana Goldberg may be reached at [email protected]

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