#WeSayThanks Day: How An ER Nurse’s Dogs Bring Her Comfort During The Pandemic

dogs helping er nurse mom

Daisy and Max (Picture Credit: Theresa Villamiel)

DogTime would like to thank all of the essential workers who have soldiered on to help people and animals, even during these difficult pandemic times. That’s why we’re celebrating #WeSayThanksDay on May 19th to honor all essential workers on the front lines!

Theresa Villamiel is one of those heroes. In addition to being a dog and human mom, she’s an emergency room (ER) nurse at Edward Hospital in Naperville, Illinois. For the last few months, she’s been working especially long shifts in the COVID-19 area of the ER.

As much as we’d like to thank her, we can’t do nearly as good a job of giving Theresa the love she deserves as her dogs do. We wanted to find out more about Theresa’s work and challenges, and how her dogs are comforting her in these stressful times.

Meet Theresa, An ER Nurse And Essential Hero!

AMANDA: Theresa, thank you so much for sharing your time and story with us. Could you please tell us a little about your job? How is it different right now? Is it more stressful than usual?

THERESA: I am an ER nurse, and right now, things are very different. With shelter-in-place, we aren’t seeing as many patients in the ER.

However, we are seeing a lot of really sick patients, especially those with COVID.

Stress levels have increased, and the way we provide care and treat patients has changed a lot.

AMANDA: That must be tough. We’re lucky to have you and your fellow nurses taking care of us!

Meet Daisy And Max, Two Dogs Who Take Good Care Of Their Mom

dogs helping er nurse mom

Daisy (Picture Credit: Theresa Villamiel)

AMANDA: Can you tell us about your dogs? What breeds are they; what are their names; and how did you decide to add them to your family?

THERESA: I have two dogs: Daisy, who is a Beagle, and Max, who we think is a Boxer-hound mix.

We got Daisy on a whim. She did so well with my daughter, and we just had to get her. And thankfully, we did.

She was actually sick with pneumonia, and we were able to get her the care she needed.

We decided to add Max to our family about a year after we got Daisy so that Daisy would have a puppy playmate.

AMANDA: I love that story. I’m glad you were able to rescue Daisy and that both dogs have added love to your family!

Are Dogs Acting Different With Mom Away From Home So Much?

AMANDA: Do you feel like your dogs have picked up on your increased stress right now? Is there anything they’re doing differently–following you around more, cuddling you more, etc.?

THERESA: I think my dogs miss me, since I work long hours and have been social distancing. Whenever I do see them, they are overly excited and want all the cuddles and belly rubs.

I do know my dogs miss human interaction.

Typically, when we would take the dogs for walks, they would get all the love from our neighbors. However, now with social distancing, sometimes, they cry when they can’t greet the neighbors with their kisses.

AMANDA: Aww. They sound like love bugs! I wish we could explain the reasoning for social distancing to our dogs!

How Are Max And Daisy Comforting Their ER Nurse Mom?

dogs helping er nurse mom

Max (Picture Credit: Theresa Villamiel)

AMANDA: How are your dogs a comfort to you, normally, and especially in these times? Do they help you relax, feel loved, etc.? I know when I’m stressed or emotional, cuddles with my dog are the best stress relief!

THERESA: Sometimes, a cuddle or nap with my dogs makes me feel so much better. I work long hours, and by the time I get home, they usually are asleep. I can tell that they miss the normalcy.

They miss my daughter, who has been staying with my sister since I work on the front lines, where exposure is a constant.

My dogs are so lovable, and they love cuddles and attention from others, so I can tell they miss all the social interaction, just like us humans do.

AMANDA: It must be so hard to find time for your normal activities. Is there anything in particular that you try to work into your schedule, with your dogs? Do you guys take walks together, play in your backyard, sleep in the same bed, etc.?

THERESA: I do my best to arrange walks and social distancing visits for my daughter with our dogs in the backyard so they can play together.

AMANDA: I bet that’s a lot of fun for all involved!

Some Advice For Those Who Want The Comfort Of A Dog Right Now

AMANDA: Do you have any advice for other pet parents on the front lines, or front line workers who are considering becoming new pet parents?

THERESA: Having dogs is a huge comfort at times like these. However, our fur babies also need a lot of love and attention.

Luckily for me, while I work on the front lines, I still have some family members at home who can tend to my dogs’ needs. During this pandemic, things are stressful, and we are working long hours and taking precautions to make sure we do self-care and rest to keep ourselves healthy.

Becoming a pet parent is a huge decision.

Although we all love dogs, we must make sure that we truly consider if, at this stressful time, we will be able to commit to providing the proper care and attention to the new family addition. If you are able to, then yes, become a new pet parent, and enjoy all the love your new addition brings to your family!

AMANDA: Theresa, thank you so much for that terrific advice and perspective. And thank you so much again for your time and life-saving work on the front lines. We hope you and your human and dog family stay safe and stay well!

Celebrate #WeSayThanks Day

We send our thanks to all essential workers who are out there keeping us safe during the pandemic. Join us in honoring essential workers on May 19th as we celebrate #WeSayThanks Day. Wear purple to show your support, and spread the word on social media with the hashtag #WeSayThanks!

Stay safe and take care of each other, including our canine friends, and especially our human friends on the front lines! For more info about pets and COVID-19, check out the CDC’s latest guidelines here.

Do you know any essential workers who deserve our thanks on #WeSayThanks Day? Are your dogs bringing you comfort during these times, too? Let us know in the comments below!

Join Evolve Media’s #WeSayThanks campaign to show support to essential workers and thank them for their selfless acts of kindness and heroism. To learn how to get involved, please click here for more information.