Flood this Earth's Randy Wilson
Randy Wilson, 36, is a soft-spoken man. By trade he’s a nuclear pipe fitter at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. He is also the frontman and “death growl” vocalist for his metal band Flood This Earth. Last July, he was the recipient of a transplanted heart. Beyond the quality of his medical treatment and his luck in finding the right donor, he heavily credits his rescued dog and best friend Gir for his recovery.
- Metal music is just something I grew up with. The sound of the guitar is what drew me in.
- We’ve played with Slipknot and Megadeth. We’ve always tried to do around two shows a month in the area. It’s hard to wear out your welcome that way.
- After not feeling quite right … I was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy. A virus got into the lining of my heart and permanently weakened it.
- There is a lot to finding a match. There had been a few cases where I had almost had a heart, but it was too small for my body. It took nearly a year and a half. Death crossed my mind constantly.
- I got what was an extremely strong male heart. When I woke up from surgery and even sometimes now, I can see the veins in my eyes pulsing.
- I was up and walking the day after I woke up from the transplant … home nine days later.
- I’m different in a lot of ways. This seems to be usual among heart transplant patients. He [the donor] is definitely a part of me now.
- Gir is named after a character in the cartoon Invader Zim. I rescued him from a humane society. He had been returned twice. I was at a point two years ago where I was getting all this bad news and I just needed a companion.
Randy Wilson isn’t the only person who feels better with a dog at his side. People in hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and other places where they might face discomfort or loneliness are finding ease in the fluff and affection of so-called “therapy dogs.” A registered nurse, Elaine Smith, started the use of therapy dogs back in 1976, when she noticed how her patients responded when a chaplain and his golden retriever visited. Since then, the demand — and the number of uses — for therapy dogs has grown.
Photographic assistance: Wendo Mendelini. Hair and makeup: Loretta Tower of the Dover Color Bar. Subject suggested by Erin Thomas.