Medical institutions the world over have cottoned on to the healing power of animal companions, so much so that it’s not unusual to see dogs, rabbits, and other “therapy animals” in the children’s wards of major hospitals from time to time. But for one little girl from Hartland, Wisconsin, she didn’t even have to leave her home—the dogs came to her.
This is Emma, an incredibly brave 7-year-old from Hartland, WI who was recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain…
Seven-year-old Emma Mertens loves dogs more than anything. She was also diagnosed with a rare, inoperable brain tumor (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma) in January of 2019 and is attempting to cope with the devastating diagnosis along with her heartbroken family. Fox 6 reported that soon after her diagnosis, Emma had a request: she wanted people to send her photos of their dogs.
Emma’s call didn’t go unheard. Her loving family spread the word, and it wasn’t long before the mailbox (both literal and electronic!) was bursting with letters of condolence, support, and most importantly the uplifting canine selfies that Emma had been craving. The sweet girl knew to focus on the things that made her happy in the face of an insurmountable diagnosis, and she knew that dog pictures would bring her that respite.
The Wisconsin Human Society even got involved, posting Emma’s picture online with a heartfelt message on her behalf: “This is Emma, an incredibly brave 7-year-old,” they posted. “Her family is collecting dog photos to brighten her spirits during treatment. Do you have any pup pics to share?”
But neither Emma nor her family could have anticipated the sheer scale of one home visit on Saturday, March 9. Hearing her story, police representatives from almost 40 different Wisconsin police departments descended on Emma’s home, all accompanied by their K-9 companions, or “dog officers” to the more whimsical among us!
Today, just a few of us (roughly 40) stopped by to see Emma. She had no idea we were coming so she was VERY excited. What an amazing and strong little girl. It was such a great morning. #teamemma
The Hartford Police Department took photos and shared them on their Facebook page. “Today, just a few of us (roughly 40) stopped by to see Emma,” they began. “She had no idea we were coming so she was VERY excited.”
The visiting police officers (K-9s included) were bowled over by the young girl’s strength and stoicism, not to mention her capacity for laughter and fun despite her diagnosis. Photos show Emma in a warm blue jacket and pink woolly hat, cozying up to the dogs and sporting a sweet grin on her face throughout the entire duration of the visit. “What an amazing and strong little girl,” the Hartford Police continued. “It was such a great morning.”
There are no words….Pure Joy! Thank you to everyone who took the time to organize and participate in this. Emma is…
Emma’s family have devoted a Facebook page to their little girl’s journey named “Team Emma,” and are using it as a space to honor Emma’s request for dog pictures: the Facebook page is a treasure trove of “feel-good” photos for the young girl to visit whenever she is in need of cheering up. The family commented on Emma’s special visit: “There are no words … Pure Joy!” they shared. “Thank you to everyone who took the time to organize and participate in this.”
And it seems that the show of solidarity from Wisconsin’s finest, plus a bouncing brigade of joyful canines, will stay with Emma for a good, long time to come.
“Emma is still all smiles!”