Randy Lange hated to see his daughter terrified. Jessica was slated to have her tonsils and was scared because she didn’t know what to expect from the surgery or the hospital visit. That got Randy thinking about a way to reassure kids who have to go to the hospital. A veterinarian, Randy came up with the idea to show kids what to expect at the hospital, but through a dog’s eyes — his own lovable Golden Retriever named Josh. Dr. Lange’s book, I’ll Be O.K. takes kids along on trip to the animal hospital. Josh shares every detail of his hospital experience from the doctor looking into his ears to taking x-rays, and even his surgery including anesthesia and recovery. His reassuring story shows kids it’s normal to be scared, but that everything will be okay, just like it was for him.
While Randy Lange was at the hospital with his daughter, he learned that many kids have to spend time in the hospital alone due to work or other commitments of their parents. Being alone can make a hospital even more frightening for a child. Dr. Lange was so concerned about kids in this situation that he came up with “Josh and Friends,” the idea to package his book with a plush Josh dog kids could keep for their own to comfort them during their hospital stay.
Dr. Lange and Josh began traveling extensively to promote the “Josh Project” and it wasn’t long before the American Veterinary Medical Association became involved, along with Bayer Animal Health and The Children’s Miracle Network. Most hospitals are happy to allow the plush Josh to accompany a child through pre-op procedures and then rejoin them in recovery. So even when mom and dad can’t be there, Josh is, reminding kids that everything will be OK.
I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Lange at the American Academy of Pediatrics conference last fall. I’m drawn to dogs like a magnet and having had three Golden Retrievers myself, I couldn’t stay away when I saw Josh lounging on the exhibit hall floor. My co-author Stephanie, God love her, was patient when I stopped to pet Josh, although inside I’m sure she was saying, “Great. Now it will be another hour before I get to see the Lincoln Memorial.” She was right. Dr. Lange was just as friendly as Josh. I was drawn to his unaffected easy demeanor and liked him immediately. Before I knew it was settled into the chair next to him scratching Josh behind the ears and listening as Dr. Lange told me about his project. I promised him I would help spread the word as it spoke to two things near and dear to my heart: kids and dogs.
I’m a cancer survivor myself and one thought that kept me going through the many months of treatment was that at least it was me going through it and not one of my children. I can’t imagine anything worse for a parent than having to put your child through difficult treatments and procedures — trying to somehow ease their fears and give them comfort. I know firsthand what a comfort dogs can be when you’re sick. My Golden Retriever Luke wouldn’t leave my side when I was going through chemo. And that’s exactly what Josh can do for kids who have to go to the hospital. If you or someone you know has a child in this situation, reading I’ll Be O.K. and snuggling up with a plush Josh puppy could be just what the doctor ordered. And you’ll be supporting a good cause. Proceeds from the Josh Project go to the Children’s Miracle Network.
Dr. Lange, you’re a great guy and a great dad.
Sara Ellington is the author of The Mommy Chronicles: Conversations Sharing the Comedy and Drama of Pregnancy and New Motherhood (Hay House, 2005) and The Must-Have Mom Manual (Ballantine/Random House, April 2009).