Monday Morning Open Thread: Good Dog

Especially for Betty Cracker and LitlBrit, among others, a post-Marathon story from the Boston Globe:

On April 16 last year, the morning after, Mike Hurley walked into the surgical waiting room at Boston Medical Center, into a tense and dazed crowd of people desperate to hear how their loved ones were doing. And he brought with him a simple question: Do you want to pet a dog?…

Hurley politely told the families he would be available all day, and took Dexter, his 9-year-old boxer, to his office in the basement. Just before lunch, he grabbed Dexter’s leash, took a hard swallow, and returned to the waiting room with the same question: Would anyone like a visit from Dexter?…

Less than a week before, Hurley and Dexter had made their first appearance at Boston Medical Center, the inaugural duo in the hospital’s Healing Paws program, an experiment to see if dogs could provide in-hospital comfort to patients and families going through trauma and illness. Months before, Hurley had answered a hospital-wide e-mail looking for staff members willing to take their dog through the training. When the explosions occurred, he and Dexter had seen a total of four “trial patients.” No one was sure it would work. By the time Hurley and Dexter returned to the waiting room that afternoon for a third visit, there was a clear sign that it was: Several people had saved pieces of their lunch for Dexter….

Dexter has visited hundreds of patients and staff since the bombings. And Hurley has watched, again and again, as the simple magic of a slobbering dog has transformed moods on a bad day. Which is why Hurley, who is 46, says this has also been the best year of his life, the most meaningful.

One day recently, Hurley and Dexter were walking through a park near their home in the South End, and a homeless man looked like he was about to ask for money. Instead, as they passed, the man looked at Dexter and said: “That dog is the only visitor I had when I was in Boston Medical Center.”

There’s a picture of Dexter at the link. Apart from unexpected eye-watering allergies, what’s on the agenda for the new week?

52 replies
  1. 1
    Patricia Kayden says:

    That’s a sweet story. Who wouldn’t want to pet a Boxer? The very thought is soothing.

  2. 2
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Lovely story. Dexter and his co-workers are heroes.

  3. 3
    RosiesDad says:

    I must have about 30 certified therapy dogs in my practice. They go to hospitals, rehab facilities, senior communities. A bunch of others participate in reading programs at schools and in local libraries (kids read to the dogs).

    Dogs are stress relieving. Their affection is unconditional. The feel of a dog’s soft, warm muzzle under hand reduces your blood pressure.

    I am only surprised that the hospital didn’t have an existing program years ago, as they have in many of the hospitals here in the Philly area.

  4. 4
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    My Lab wants to be a therapy dog. Why else would he run thru my legs every time I go down the stairs in an obvious attempt to send me to the hospital?

  5. 5
    Baud says:

    Yay dogs!

  6. 6
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Somebody shoot me. Please.

    Will Chelsea Clinton run for the White House one day?

    The Stupid, it hurts.

  7. 7
    Baud says:


    Click bait from the Guardian. Your reaction is what they were aiming for.

  8. 8
    Schlemizel says:

    Speaking of reactions: Not sure how many read John Scalzi’s blog (link to your left over there) it is always entertaining if occasionally a bit ‘inside baseball” on the writers thing.

    John has had a running, well feud for a lack of a better term, with Vox Day, a site that has been ridiculed here more than once. John didn’t start it and has been way too kind and polite but he has not shied way from it either. Apparently John winning the Hugo award last year for best novel sent Voxy into a bit of a tizzy about how he only won because he is not a racist, sexist, homophobic dipshit like Voxy is. So this year Vox decided to pimp his work & suggest people drop the $40 for a membership so they can vote for the Hugo as a way to . . . well that part is not really clear. I guess show that a racist sexist homophobic dipshit can game the system & win an award they do not deserve simply because of their politics. Its interesting reading particularly since Scalzi refuses to climb down into the muck with Voxy but still hand him his ass regularly.

  9. 9
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Baud: They were aiming for ridicule? If I don’t get the Guardian is it any wonder I don’t understand FOX?

    (take note, I never read word one of the article, just clicked thru for the pure awesomeness of posting the headline)

  10. 10
    Iowa Old Lady says:

    @RosiesDad: A friend of mine takes her dog to the library for the READ program. Kids love reading to Mouse.

    Great link, Anne Laurie.

  11. 11
    Baud says:


    I didn’t read it either. But I’m sure the Guardian knows what type of stories will be clicked on and emailed by their readers, and those stories don’t necessarily coincide with serious journalism.

  12. 12
    donnah says:

    My mom volunteers at our local childrens’ hospital and they have several therapy dogs who come to see the kids. Mom says the children light up when the dogs come into the room. For children who have pets, it gives them a connection to the dogs they are missing at home, and for those who don’t, it is a joy to have a big, fluffy golden retriever who gladly shares hugs and seems to be smiling all the time.

    The owners of these terrific animals have to meet high standards, and they clearly adore their pets. And they are willing to share them with kids and their families every week. It’s a wonderful program.

  13. 13
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Baud: (shakes head) Sometimes I feel so old.

  14. 14
    MomSense says:

    I love this story about Dexter and Mike. I’m glad that Mike got some help in dealing with all that he experienced providing comfort to the bombing survivors and their families.

    Dogs do have a way of knowing how to be with different people. I had 40 people over for Easter yesterday (Yes I am crazy and exhausted today) and the coolest thing was watching my old pup welcome everyone. He was very measured and quiet with the elderly guests and much more waggy and licky with the little ones. He positioned himself perfectly to capture any dropped morsel of food and spent most of the party just lying next to a gentleman in his 80s who was content to pet him and give him treats. This man told me all about his childhood dog and both my dog and he seemed to enjoy each other. I think we will be arranging some regular visits.

  15. 15
    danielx says:

    Speaking of aiming for ridicule….I give you the title of young Master Douchehat’s latest from the most valuable op-ed space in the world….wait for it….

    Marx Rises Again

    Marx! Commies! Ooga-booga, run for your life!

    Here’s a little sample….

    Winship’s point raises the possibility that even if Piketty’s broad projections are correct, the future he envisions might be much more stable and sustainable than many on the left tend to assume. Even if the income and wealth distributions look more Victorian, that is, the 99 percent may still be doing well enough to be wary of any political movement that seems too radical, too utopian, too inclined to rock the boat.

    Key phrase: “…the 99 percent may still be doing well enough…”

    Or they may not. In any case, perish forbid that those beleaguered 99 percenters should be attracted to any movement because it’s too inclined to rock the boat. Why would they, you query, if they’re doing well enough not to rock the boat?

    Fear not, Ross has the answer, and it’s not because (to quote Mr. Charles Pierce): People got no jobs. People got no money. No, it’s because – maybe, could be, possibly –

    The taproot of agitation in 21st-century politics, this trend suggests, may indeed be a Marxian sense of everything solid melting into air. But what’s felt to be evaporating could turn out to be cultural identity — family and faith, sovereignty and community — much more than economic security…

    And somewhere in this pattern, perhaps, lies the beginnings of a more ideologically complicated critique of modern capitalism — one that draws on cultural critics like Daniel Bell and Christopher Lasch rather than just looking to material concerns, and considers the possibility that our system’s greatest problem might not be the fact that it lets the rich claim more money than everyone else. Rather, it might be that both capitalism and the welfare state tend to weaken forms of solidarity that give meaning to life for many people, while offering nothing but money in their place.

    This is what in military circles is known as a target-rich environment.

    Ross, let me introduce you to my clue stick. (It’s a lovely piece of hand carved ash about four feet in length, just perfect for knocking sense into NYT op-ed writers.) Limited economic security – you know, the wherewithal to obtain food, shelter, clothing, etc. – is sort of a prerequisite to cultural identity, faith, all that good shit. I mean, somewhere along the line you must have taken Psych 101, with Maslow’s famous triangle. The basic needs are sort of the basis for everything else, and the ability to meet those needs is what’s missing for a great many people. If Marxism is going through a revival of sorts, it’s not because people have become less interested to family, faith, apple pie and scouting activities as general concepts. It’s because they’ve got other priorities, like keeping body and soul in one piece and keeping up on mortgage payments when your family income has dropped by 60 percent when a spouse got laid off and you lost your insurance at the same time your kid broke an arm riding her bike and you got a $4500 bill from the local hospital. But then i suspect that deep down you know this already, or you mightn’t be using all these qualifiers like ‘may still be’, ‘might be’, ‘could turn out to be’ and so forth.

    No, what’s really troubling you is that Marxism, while a complete failure as the basis for an economy and political system, has a great deal of utility as an analytical tool. Marxian analysis might lead too many people to ponder too deeply on how and why they’re being repeatedly screwed by our economic system and the pols who defend it at the behest of those who own them, not to mention being taxed in order to pay for that very same screwing.

    No, much easier to blame a Marxian revival on the loss of community and common cultural identity felt by those who have lost their jobs and/or have no prospects of finding any. Wouldn’t want the proles getting uppity with their betters or getting ideas above their station, after all. Clearly all this is because of a lack of food for the soul – lack of funds to pay for food for the body has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

  16. 16
    Schlemizel says:


    Thats a nice piece of ash you got there ;) – nice analysis.

    Marx was wrong to assume that support for his ideas would come from the middle class, support came because there was no possibility of a middle class. It was the very poor serfs with no hope of an improved lot that drove the revolution (which was taken over by an even more ruthless group of royalty but thats a different story. The take away is that once you unleash the dragon you cannot control it). Marx was very right however in his belief that the unfettered capitalism of his day was not limiting economic growth. What was going to limit it was the inability of most people to build a better life and the anger it would cause. That is what brought the house down.

  17. 17
    Suffern ACE says:

    @danielx: nah. It’s anomie. It has to be anomie.

  18. 18
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Suffern ACE: also, I hear a lot of people claiming to be “basically Marxist” but I don’t actually hear people using the language of Marxism. If Marxism is just “people upset about their lives” then the capitalists are being way to sensative. Fragile flowers are these supporters of the current regime.

  19. 19
    Betty Cracker says:

    Love this story. Dogs have been a comfort to me all my life when I was going through hard times. Boxers are such goofy, fun-loving dogs; they are especially suited to such a role.

    A friend told me about a hotel somewhere — I can’t remember where — that offers guests the option of a cat in their room! I don’t know how the cats feel about it, and I hope the hotel maintains hypoallergenic rooms for guests who can’t abide dander, but I still like the idea!

  20. 20
    danielx says:


    One tries.

    I’ll tell you, though, it’s almost more painful to read this drivel than a piece from Bobo. David Brooks’ particular field of expertise is the denial of history, logic and reality in order to excuse the fuckups of, and promote the aims of…the Republican Party. It’s what he’s paid for and he’s good at it, good to the point that it reads like he can produce it while asleep and standing on his head, which for all I know he may very well be.

    Douthat, on the other hand, is so painfully bloody earnest (none of this Wilde at heart nonsense for him) that it feels like chewing on aluminum foil to read him. And I’m male, so I can only imagine how it grates on female readers when he tells them that some variety of patriarchal horseshit is good for them.

  21. 21
    Betty Cracker says:

    @danielx: I saw Douthat’s column this weekend and dismissed it with a derisive snort as usual. He’s such a thick-headed dimwit he might wear out your clue-by-four without gaining a single insight. All societal ills boil down to lascivious trollops for Douthat. He was born in the wrong century. He would have been a splendid Inquisitor.

  22. 22
    raven says:

    At first I thought you were talking about my Lil Bit!

  23. 23
    Schlemizel says:

    Agreed. Brooks always reminds me of the classic Hitchcock psycho killer, calmly talking about mundane banalities of life while performing the most horrific of actions. Not to go all godwin but he would be conducting the orchestra while the trains are being unloaded. Dough hat it that yappy little terrier that will not shut up, nipping at ankles and pissing off even the dog lovers. Since he shows no signs of ‘maturing’ into a more Brooksien writer I wonder how long he can stick and where he will fail up to.

  24. 24
    danielx says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Betty, a few years ago there was a piece on Sixty Minutes about Oscar the cat, who lives in a long term care facility and hospice with a great many residents suffering from dementia/Alzheimer’s and the like. He seemed/seems to have an unerring sense for when patients are close to dying and then keeps them company through death, and seems to need recovery time afterwards – kitty grief, perhaps. Sounds morbid, but both patients and staff appear to find great comfort in his attentions.

  25. 25
  26. 26
    JoyfulA says:

    At my previous church, we often had a dog in the congregation. One of the members trained aide dogs of some sort, and in church trainees learned to behave among a crowd of people doing strange-to-dogs things. The most fun, of course, were the ones just starting their training who wanted to follow the acolyte, sign hymns, and the like.

    But otherwise I’m a cat person.

  27. 27
    Interrobang says:

    My dad and his dog Calliope do dog therapy through the St. John Ambulance locally. They visit nursing homes, the hospice, and occasionally student residences at the local university. They got written up in the local fishwrap, not entirely favourably. Given that our local paper occupies roughly the same political and tone niche as Rush Limbaugh, that’s not really surprising. Do click the link for the picture (Callie is a Landseer Newfoundlander), but don’t read the comments; they’ll only make you sad. (People are actually saying that students shouldn’t get therapy dog visits because being in school isn’t as stressful as working. I don’t know what kind of school they went to, or how seriously they took it, but I’ve never been as stressed on the job as I was in university… The stupid, it burns.)

  28. 28
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Interrobang: Did not read article or the comments, just looked at picture of college students and the dog. Nice doggie, good doggie, handsome doggie, he is certainly a big cuddle. Hope Calliope and your father continue helping people for a long time.

  29. 29
    raven says:

    @Interrobang: Look at that big sugar. Stay away from all comment sections, worse than Cassidy!

  30. 30
    Betty Cracker says:

    @JoyfulA: A former coworker’s wedding ceremony was interrupted / enriched (depending on your POV) by the participation of the priest’s cat. The video was hilarious. The couple were kneeling at the altar when the cat strolled in through a side door, wandered up the aisle and started winding around their legs, rubbing up against them and otherwise looking for attention. They just kept on going with the ceremony. What else can you do?

  31. 31
    raven says:

    @Betty Cracker: Raven was the ring bearer in our wedding. In my first wedding Ralph and Lennie the dogs kept dropping the stick on the preacher’s (my ex-FIL) foot!

  32. 32
    rikyrah says:

    Mitch McConnell Says He Stood Up for Women in a Senate Sexual-Harassment Scandal. The Real Story Is Damning.

    McConnell claims he led a 1995 investigation against a GOP senator accused of sexual misconduct. Actually, he took steps to keep it quiet.

    —By Molly Redden

    | Fri Apr. 18, 2014 3:00 AM PDT

    Facing his toughest reelection battle in years against a well-known and well-financed female opponent, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) recently boasted that he led the Senate in ousting a GOP colleague accused of sexual harassment in 1995. But news reports from that time show that late in the investigation, McConnell tried to stall the probe against his fellow Republican, Sen. Bob Packwood (R-Ore.). He derided efforts by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to hold public hearings on Packwood as “frolic and detour”—after the Senate ethics committee had substantiated nearly two-dozen claims of sexual harassment leveled against Packwood by female lobbyists and former staffers.

    Talking about the Packwood scandal this past week, McConnell noted that he was chair of the Senate ethics committee when Packwood resigned. In a Tuesday interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader, McConnell said he had taken “the toughest possible position.” The newspaper reported that McConnell had “offered himself as an example of how elected officials should handle situations when a member of their own party is accused of sexual harassment.”

    But the bulk of the ethics probe against Packwood took place when the committee was chaired by a Democrat. When Republicans regained a majority in the Senate after the 1994 elections and McConnell became chair of the committee, he transformed the Packwood investigation into a partisan mess.

  33. 33
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    Ugh….Reason Infinity for why I’ve lost hope for anything to be done on climate change: someone suggested that since ‘Greenies’ and ‘Evironmentalists’ couldn’t stop hurricanes and tsunamis, why should they get to lecture anyone on stopping climate change since it’s obvious we’re all powerless to stop it. And got more than a few agreements over that exact point.

    God help me, stupid always wins, especially when stupid doubles down in the face of evidence and drags people down into agreement with it.

  34. 34
    Betty Cracker says:

    @raven: Awww! That must’ve been so awesome.

    Mine are too ill-trained to participate in a ceremony. I’m good at training them in some ways; I can housebreak a puppy in no time flat, and they’ll leave food alone (drooling at a distance but maintaining a distance), but I can’t get them to contain their exuberance or stay in one place for more than a few minutes unleashed. It’s totally my fault.

  35. 35
    A Humble Lurker says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    There are various videos on the net of cats joining in with their people’s yoga. This one’s my favorite:

  36. 36
    raven says:

    @Betty Cracker: We got married in her parent’s yard, it was made for such events. There was is a little creek on the border of the lot. During the photo session Raven and Smokey got in the creek and stomped mud all over her train! If I had done it I would have been in deep shit but, since it was her angel, not so much!

  37. 37
    WaterGirl says:

    @MomSense: I worked at the university doing tech support years ago when I got a new puppy that everyone wanted to meet. On the first floor with all the artists and editors and videographers, Murphy was running around like like a crazy boy, racing into offices and so thrilled and wiggly to meet everyone. On the floor with all the deans and administrators and their support staff, he sat right down and quietly waited for introductions to everyone.

    Dogs are so smart.

  38. 38
    WaterGirl says:

    @Betty Cracker: We weren’t allowed to have pets growing up, but my parents owned a local neighborhood bar, and we lived in the apartment upstairs. My first doggie love was for the two boxers who always came into the bar with their owner. They would drink beer from little paper plates and I would get to take them for a walk around the neighborhood. One at a time, of course.

    The owner’s name was Louie and he lived across the street. He was very brave to let this little girl take his dogs for a walk; I’m sure they were bigger than I was. My middle name is Lou, named after him, of course. I’ve never been fond of the name, but I do appreciate the reminder about the nice older gentleman and my first doggie loves.

    @danielx: Oh my god, Oscar is so cute! Now I’m off to actually read the story.

  39. 39
    big ole hound says:

    @Betty Cracker: You are, after all, dealing with boxers. My Mrs actually trained a boxer and got a CD for obedience under the old AKC rules. After one exercise “Schatzie” actually nipped her butt while in the show ring. The judge laughed because she had a boxer as a kid and then complemented her patience.

  40. 40
    DecidedFenceSitter says:

    Seems like the best place to put it – a close friend of mine is fund-raising to pay back paws4vets for her therapy dog. She’s a multiple tour veteran who has been suffering all of mental and physical ailments, and I’m amazed at her strength.

    Paws4Vets has given her the dog for free; however, as it is about 10,000 to train a dog properly, my friend wants to pay it forward to another hurting vet.

  41. 41
    Betty Cracker says:

    @raven: Hahaha, dogs stomping mud on a wedding dress train! I can so picture that!

    @WaterGirl: My hubby’s parents first met in a city park as teenagers because of two boxers! My MIL and her friend were walking the friend’s boxer, and my FIL was walking his boxer when the dogs got into a (play) scrap. The mister has been a boxer man ever since. My first dog friend and protector was a German shepherd that used to walk me to school and sit under my desk all day and walk me home again after kindergarten. Back then, in that little town, you could get away with that.

    @big ole hound: Boxers are the Peter Pans of the dog world. They never really grow up.

  42. 42
    PaulW says:

    Follow me on Twitter please @PaulWartenberg as I tweet my work schedule out #LibJobShadowFL thank you.

  43. 43
    PaulW says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    A former coworker’s wedding ceremony was interrupted / enriched (depending on your POV) by the participation of the priest’s cat. The video was hilarious. The couple were kneeling at the altar when the cat strolled in through a side door, wandered up the aisle and started winding around their legs, rubbing up against them and otherwise looking for attention. They just kept on going with the ceremony. What else can you do?

    They could have fed the kitteh! and then put the kitteh on the altar so he could be worshipped as the Egyptian god he is.

  44. 44
    Amir Khalid says:

    I had a look at the Guardian piece. The sense I get is that Chelsea is scarily smart and knowledgeable, and is eminently qualified for public office; but unlike her parents, she is too private a person to seek such office. Or maybe, having seen up close what crap gets thrown at you for being famous — or, in her case, for having famous parents — she wants no part of the political circus.

  45. 45
    JoyfulA says:

    @Betty Cracker: Enriched the wedding ceremony, definitely.

  46. 46
    PST says:

    My girlfriend’s golden retriever is a therapy dog who used to work in a funeral home. While I would have thought that a dog would be an unwelcome intrusion, in fact she was a great comfort to many people. Dogs like that seem to develop a fine sense of who wants them close by and who doesn’t. She is a master of unobtrusive and undemanding friendliness, happy to just sit quietly by your side.

  47. 47
    Mnemosyne says:

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik:

    Reason Infinity for why I’ve lost hope for anything to be done on climate change: someone suggested that since ‘Greenies’ and ‘Evironmentalists’ couldn’t stop hurricanes and tsunamis, why should they get to lecture anyone on stopping climate change since it’s obvious we’re all powerless to stop it.

    Okay, (A) you need to stop going to whatever websites you’re going to and reading this stuff, because it’s only depressing you.

    (B) Did you watch last night’s “Cosmos”? As someone on the East Coast said last night, it was pretty much a 100 percent refutation of the global warming denialists without ever mentioning global warming. It was all about the scientist who discovered that leaded gasoline was dangerous and his long (and successful) struggle to get it removed from gasoline and other products.

  48. 48
    Central Planning says:

    Strong Memorial Hospital has a volunteer program where people (usually retired grandmothers) cuddle babies in the NICU. While my wife isn’t retired, I told her she should do that. She loves babies (we have 5!) and that would be much less stressful than her part-time job.

  49. 49
    moderateindy says:

    I spent two months in the hospital a while ago, and the worst part was not getting to see my dog (OK the worst part was having the hiccups for 11 days straight, and having a tube shoved up your nose. and down your throat while awake wasn’t exactly fun either). Probably the best day was a Sunday when they brought the therapy dogs around, including a border collie that looked almost identical to mine. Can’t express how much that improved my mood.

  50. 50
    Jebediah, RBG says:

    McConnell is a dishonest scumbag – but is he really trusting that no one will look back at what he actually did?

  51. 51
    Jebediah, RBG says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Or maybe, having seen up close what crap gets thrown at you for being famous — or, in her case, for having famous parents — she wants no part of the political circus.

    I hope Chelsea has a long, happy, fulfilling life doing whatever she chooses. There is only one thing I want from her. I don’t know exactly what form it would or should take, but I really want some sort of humiliating public rebuke to Rush Limbaugh for the “White House dog” “joke” he made at Chelsea’s expense. For christ sake, she was a child! I can’t seem to forget that, and I have no intention of forgiving it. I really need to see him squirm over that.

    ETA: and on topic – dogs iz awesome!

  52. 52
    MomSense says:


    Soooo smart!

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