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Jani and the hospital therapy dog

July 19, 2009 |  8:00 am

Jani The June 29 story in the Los Angeles Times "Jani's at the mercy of her mind" generated many e-mails from readers, including one who was upset that Jani Schofield, a 6-year-old diagnosed with schizophrenia, had kicked the hospital therapy dog that was visiting the children's unit at UCLA's Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital.

I received this e-mail from the dog's handler, Ellen Morrow of Tarzana, this week, and am sharing it with her permission.

Dear Shari,
 
Charley, my big, lovable golden doodle, and I have been visiting Jani at UCLA for the past several months. In fact we saw her this morning. In your very moving article, you mentioned a dog that Jani had kicked. That would be Charley. But there is much more to the story, a bit of positive, that I wanted to share with you in the hopes that it will bring a little comfort to her family.
 
When we arrived for our following visit, Jani immediately came over, apologized and hugged Charley. Two weeks later, she walked over to tell me that she loved Charley and had a present for him. She gave him a picture of a dog that she had taken from a coloring book. She said that she was sorry she hadn't had time to fill it in, but she did sign it "love, Jani."
 
Ever since the incident she has been very good with him, even exhibiting more patience when she has to wait her turn to pet him or to help him do a trick. Today when I forgot to bring out Charley's brush, Jani was the one who reminded me. She then brushed him gently.
 
I know that these are brief, isolated moments in a difficult situation. Yet maybe this bit of positive can offer some consolation.
 
Thank you for all you're doing to try to help.
 
Best regards,
Ellen Morrow (& Charley)

 
In another e-mail, Morrow went on to tell me that Charley is 85 pounds and difficult to hurt. "Charley is so mellow and was barely aware that he had been kicked." But, of course, Morrow's message is testimony to the loving heart of a young child dealing with an illness no one should ever experience. When I forwarded the e-mail to Michael and Susan Schofield, Jani's parents, they responded that the letter brought them solace on what had been a difficult day. Jani is still hospitalized at UCLA.

-- Shari Roan

Photo: Jani with a toy. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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