This weekend was hospital/hospice duty and coincidently, it was also a 2 year anniversary of my reconstructive surgery from a bad motor scooter accident. Our current duties gave me
pause paws to reflect about that day two years ago where Sam demonstrated why he’s such a great therapy dog.
I knew he would be-this dog loves people more than oxygen. He loves to be around people, even when they run up to him squealing and carry on, with loud voices, people with cigarettes, with strollers, dogs with retractable
garroting leashes. He loves them all. And he has shown me those loving feelings over and over again.
Two years ago he literally took care of me. Oh sure, my daughter made sure I made all my doctor appointments and follow-up sessions, but Sam was there next to me on the sofa when I couldn’t sleep due to pain, when I couldn’t get comfortable to save my soul. When I had to go to the bathroom, he was there, watching me, making sure I was safe. He couldn’t do anything like help me get dressed (it’s amazing when you can do when you have to by the way) but he always supervised, making sure I didn’t do anything to pull out stitches, or bump the shoulder against a door jamb. He watched me like a hawk and checked in countless times during the day, putting his head on my knee or thigh, looking up at me with soulful amber eyes, as if to say “You need anything?” His companionship was paramount in my healing process and I often wonder if his assistance made the difference in my recovery. It was then and it is still is today.
Sunday was our day to visit hospice and the coronary ICU unit. As is typically our MO, we mill around the hospital coffee shop and first floor reception areas, swing by the gift shop and generally check the pulse of goings-on before we head up to our assignment. A small little shoeless girl saw Sam and squealed with delight rushing up to us, yelling “Doggy!” Her mom came from around a partition and said, “Don’t run up to the dog,” but she was in motion and we all know moving objects tend to keep moving and with her will, I suspect she was not to be contained. I said, it was fine, Sam ‘loves little girls’ so the mom acquiesced. the little girl oohed-and-ahed over Sam and was delighted at his super fluffy coat (yup, another bath day torment session but that’s a whole different story). She put a huge kiddy bear hug around Sam’s neck and while he checked in with me through his eyes, but he never moved a muscle. Just stood there and let her hug the dickens out of him. Her mom kept saying, “Don’t squeeze so hard,” but she couldn’t seem to let go of Sam. He let her hug him and I let him do what he does best, minister to people, large or small.
After our encounter, we proceeded to our assigned floor, had some amazing connections with some really remarkable people and I couldn’t stop thinking about how Sam takes everything all in stride, today as well as he did two years ago.
We finished up at ICU and then went on over to hospice. There weren’t many patients to visit, though we got in some quality doctor and nurse time which is always gratifying-I know they need the therapy dogs as much as the patients do. The one patient we did get to visit was more than a challenge. She was unhappy that her son and grandson hadn’t visited her, she couldn’t understand why she couldn’t get the video player work so she could hear a movie and begged me to put a different DVD in for her. I tried to accommodate her while Sam watched. He watched this woman and tried to get her to focus on him, She wasn’t really up for a dog visit, preferring to make us run to get a nurse to ‘fix that damn thing’ and then a second trip get her a glass of milk. We did both without complaint. And once we got her settled in, her breath leveled off and she relaxed by letting go of all the things that aggravated her and sank back to watch the movie. We left her shortly thereafter, the end result of the mental numbing watching a movie although I doubt she heard me say goodbye knowing she’d be falling asleep soon. And that was ok, I cannot imagine being alone in a hospice center knowing the end was near and not being able to make the last few moments of life be somewhat enjoyable or at least comfortable. That’s cool, but I hope that when my time comes, I want to leave this earth with dignity and graciousness. The idea of being fussy and crabbish is too overwhelming for me. Please understand I say that with no malice or judgment, just that once again, another person is alone at the time when they especially need their family which may have been why she was so cantankerous. But who knows?
After a very long, deep nap when we got home, Sam was ready to go out for our evening constitution. We walked our usual route and ran into several people who asked if they could stop and pet Sam. One woman who was walking with her daughter stopped us and asked if she could pet Sam. We chatted for a few minutes and Sam’s therapy work came up. She replied, how coincidental since they we’re out trying to suss out a difficult problem and she thought this therapy diversion might be just the ticket. She looked into Sam’s face and asked him whether he could give her some momentary balance because she needed it. I gulped hard thinking she might break down and sob, but said of course. Both she and the daughter petted and hugged Sam for a long time and again, he stood there, patient, motionless knowing he was doing what he was meant to do. When we finally bid our farewells, I couldn’t help but see this affable goofball in a proud light. He proved once again, his work never stops…he’s always on the clock and so the naps he takes are exactly what he needs to rejuvenate and be ready for the next one who will need him, be it me, a patient, doctor or nurse or someone just out walking the neighborhood.
Does you dog provide you with life balance and comfort at those exact times when you most need it?
Live, love, bark! <3