Sometimes the most meaningful words come from those who don’t speak at all. Chance, Corona, Bolt and Rampage speak only in barks – but their message of inspiration for the patients of SSM Cardinal Glennon came through loud and clear.
Purina Farms trainers and their amazing canine athletes performed at SSM Cardinal Glennon on Tuesday, catching Frisbees and skillfully sailing through the air next to a beautiful banner that read “This performance is for you, Mackenzie!” In the audience, Mackenzie Woelbling, 13, watched with rapt attention and eagerly awaited her opportunity to take pictures with the photogenic pooches.
Mackenzie was set to spend a day as a trainer for the talented dog team when she was unexpectedly admitted to SSM Cardinal Glennon. In June 2013, Mackenzie was diagnosed with relapsed osteosarcoma – her fifth battle with childhood cancer. Her smile and positive outlook have inspired so many people and, after Mackenzie was unable to go to Purina Farms, the Purina team decided to bring the dogs to her.
Trainers John Casey and Tracy Custer perform daily at Purina Farms with a talented group of dogs who specialize in high-jumping and catching flying discs. Performers Chance, Corona, Bolt and Rampage demonstrated their extraordinary skills outside the hospital to a group of excited patients and visitors. It was important to Mackenzie that other kids at the hospital have the opportunity to see the dogs as well, said mom Shana Woelbling.
Mackenzie is an animal lover who stays in touch with her three dogs at home through video chatting, but having the opportunity to interact face-to-face with the Purina Farms dogs did so much to boost her spirits.
“She was so thrilled and has been showing off her pictures all day,” Shana said after the show. “The hospital has great Child Life specialists and so many things to keep the kids happy, but pets can do so much for you. When you have a child who misses their pets, the ability to see and interact with them does a lot to keep them calm.”
The Purina Farms trainers had a great time at the event. When the event was over, their only question was: “When can we come back?” The dogs didn’t say much but it’s hard to misread a tail wag: They loved Mackenzie as much as she loved them.
A big thanks to Purina and SSM Cardinal Glennon’s Child Life, TCU nurses and Respiratory Therapy for making this inspiring day happen for Mackenzie!