Dying man makes ‘complete turnaround’ after hospital reunion with lost dog

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CORBIN, Ky. — A hospital bent the rules for a sick patient and the results were amazing, according to Today.

James Wathen, 73, had stopped eating. With what little strength he could gather, he whispered to a health care worker that he missed his dog, a one-eyed Chihuahua he hadn’t see since paramedics brought him to the hospital weeks earlier.

A group of nurses worked to find out what happened to Wathen’s dog, Bubba, hoping a reunion might comfort him in his deteriorating state — even if the reunion would mean bending hospital rules against pets.

The nurses eventually tracked Bubba down by contacting the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter. Bubba had been taken there and placed with a foster family.

Recently, Bubba had also fallen ill.

“The dog quit eating a week ago, which is very strange,” Mary-Ann Smyth, president of the non-profit facility, told Today. “The dog didn’t know where James was and James didn’t know where the dog was and believe it or not, they both stopped eating at about the same time.”

A reunion was arranged for Wathen and Bubba on Saturday, Oct. 11, at the hospital.

Smyth said the dog seemed sad when being brought to the hospital, but immediately perked up about 20 steps from Wathen’s room.

Wathen began to cry as soon as he saw his beloved pet, according to WKYT.

“There wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” Chief Nursing Officer Kimberly Probus said.

By the time Bubba returned for a second visit on Oct. 14, there were visible changes in both Wathen and Bubba’s conditions.

“[The hospital staff] didn’t think James was going to make it,” Smyth told Today.” He’s done a complete turnaround. He’s speaking, he’s sitting up, he’s eating. He doesn’t look like the same guy. And the dog is eating and doing better now, too.”

Smyth said she is not surprised by the healing power pets provide their owners.

Baptist Health Corbin will now begin implementing a pet visitation policy for situations like this, according to WKYT.

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