We typically think of dogs as being dependent on their owners. But in the case of Anthony Lyons, a 16-year-old boy who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia last year, it is dogs—more than half-a-million of them—that are making his life a little easier.
At Phoenix Childrens hospital, where Anthony is currently undergoing chemotherapy, Anthony has greatly benefited from a program that brings dogs to interact with extended-stay patients. This form of therapy is based on studies that have shown that dogs can ease stress and fear in humans, as well as boost oxytocin, a hormone that allows the body to adapt to highly emotive situations.
But for the days that Anthony doesn’t get time with the hospital’s therapy dogs, a friend of his mom started the Facebook page Photo Doggies for Anthony, which has rallied some 1.6 million people to upload photos of their pets in his name. So far there have been more than half-a-million photos uploaded, featuring dogs of all shapes and sizes from around the world accompanied by encouraging messages.
Anthony and his mom have been overwhelmed by the number of responses they’ve received from people showing their support through animals. She has responded to Facebook followers with notes like this one:
I cannot express the joy we have gotten from these photos. We have looked at each and every photo and video and we laugh and sometimes cry just from the outpouring of support. I will never be able to thank you all enough…for sharing and loving your pets as much as we love ours. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Above is the photo we are posting for Anthony today. Let’s hope it brings him some extra joy.