Cared for by Prestige Clients Bill
& Martha - Buster Brown, an 8yo Chocolate lab, has a truly excellent home
& gives back even more.
Buster Brown is a registered therapy
dog with a soft, warm touch that runs from his paws to a human's heart. His
handler, Martha Server, witnesses it every week. She herself fell victim to it.
"I was teaching a fitness class
at a gym near Fort Bragg and saw a picture of a cute puppy on the door and said
that I wanted the dog," Server said. "I fell in love with a lovable
puppy with blue eyes."
The puppy became a nationally
certified therapy dog through Therapy Dogs International when he was 20 months
old. Now a handsome 8-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever, Buster Brown
started training when he was only a few weeks old and continued to train
intensely during the 12 months prior to certification.
"We purchased Buster Brown as a
gift for a fallen military hero's family, but they couldn't take him at the
time because of living circumstances. And after he lived with us, we weren't
willing to let him go," Server said. "The family is still thrilled
that his life has been devoted to serving veterans and children."
Every week for the past five years,
Buster Brown, with Server in tow, visits the Community Living Center at the VA
Medical Center in Asheville. The veterans at the center need care ranging from
short-term rehabilitation to nursing and hospice care. Buster doesn't care what
illnesses they suffer; he loves them unconditionally and accepts them as they
are, expecting nothing more. He doesn't care if the veteran has lost hair to
chemotherapy or his speech to a stroke. Buster Brown creates a unique bond
with the patients that has a healing dimension.
And as a reward for his visits, Buster
Brown gets a lot of love.
"Many of the veterans confined to
wheelchairs push themselves to the canteen located in the basement of the
hospital to purchase treats for him," Server said. "I always have
treats to share with the veterans, but many insist on having their own goodies
to give him. Buster Brown doesn't shy away from those who are about to pass
(away). He may be the only therapy dog that has ever been allowed into the ICU
(intensive care) unit at the VA hospital.
"At the request of patient Mike
Poole, a Vietnam vet who was known as the unofficial mayor of the Black
Mountain Dog Park, a nurse granted Buster Brown permission to visit him,"
"Immediately Buster jumped up
beside Mike to provide him with healing comfort. He barked once, and that
alerted other patients that he was there, and they requested a visit. He
provided comfort to family members and staff. Poole died on Valentine's Day in
2013 with Buster never missing an opportunity to visit with him weekly."
One special visit was with a marine
who was suffering terminal brain cancer. Buster Brown jumped in bed with the
marine and had a long visit. The next week when Buster returned, the marine had
passed. Buster Brown attends some of the memorial services.
"It was sad but rewarding that
Buster was the last dog the marine knew on this earth," Server said.
"I think he knows how sick some of them are. Many of the patients at the
VA hospital have no family members locally, and others have few visitors,
making Buster's visits even more important."
Buster Brown also provides therapy for
children at Black Mountain Primary and ArtSpace charter schools. He is
especially fond of the reading programs.
"Students spend a lot of time
reading to him and sharing their problems and feelings with him," Server
said. "One young man said that his father had been taken to prison on the
day Buster was visiting. The little boy always looked forward to hugging him
and getting wet kisses in return. At the schools, Buster has a small rug that
he sits on the entire time while the children read to him, which has lasted up
to three hours. He has visited many different schools and has an active
relationship with Black Mountain Primary and ArtSpace Charter School."
One student wrote, "Thank you for
visiting us. Thank you Buster Brown for listening when we read. When you are
not here, I imagine that I am reading to you."
Buster Brown also participated in
developing the pilot program for veterans at Asheville-Buncombe Technical
"One of Buster's most moving
moments came during a visit to St. Joseph of the Pines Rehabilitation Center in
Southern Pines," Server said. "This was the site of Buster's first
therapy job. He approached a non-responsive woman in a wheelchair who had been
in a coma for some time and no one had been able to reach her, not even the
"Buster began to lick both of her
cheeks, and she slowly smiled and opened her eyes for the first time since she
had gone into a coma. People in the large rehabilitation room, including staff
patients and family members, began clapping with tears in their eyes. During
future visits, the woman's son and family members always approached Buster
Brown and thanked him again for what they considered his miracle therapy."
Buster Brown became well-known at the
dog park in Black Mountain and made friends with many of the homeless people
who find shelter at First Baptist Church of Black Mountain in the winter. The
dog is the international ambassador to the Montreat College men's soccer team
and attends the games. The majority of the men playing on the team are from
countries outside the U.S. and have never had a personal relationship with a
dog. Buster Brown has participated in several Blessing of the Animals
ceremonies ate various area churches as well as prayer walks at the Community
of the Cross retreat center in Black Mountain.
Buster Brown has also been nominated
by the Black Mountain Kiwanis Club twice as Volunteer of the Year.
"It gives me chills - good ones -
to think of all the ways God has used Buster Brown," Server said.
"Where he goes in the community, he reaches out to those who are
experiencing personal problems such as illness, post-surgery, divorce and
grief. Wherever my husband Bill and I go, Buster Brown goes. At home he is like
all other dogs; he is our therapy dog, making us happy. If God can use a dog
like Buster Brown, he can use any of us to love and serve our community."