Are you finally at the age where you are now telling the “when I was a kid stories?” I found myself doing that exact thing the other day with some grandkids. They were amazed that we used to travel in a car for hours without videos to watch and down right stunned that we talked on a phone tethered with a cord to the wall so we had to talk in one place. I am saving the good part for them for later … the party phone lines where we could sit and listen to everyone’s conversations … ahh the good ole days.
“Last week I found myself ready to throw my modern cell phone out the window. I was trying to get ready to go visit our favorite nursing home and this un-tethered phone kept ringing with well meaning people who didn’t understand my hastiness. I finally made it to the facility with Bruno (dog-top left) in tow and Penny and Ambrosia (dog – bottom) beside me. We started down the long corridor of rooms and systematically visited with our heroes. Many were sleeping, but the ones who weren’t seemed anxious to pet and hug the canines.
As I walked past Room 127, I slowly peaked in and determined the male patient to be sleeping, but before we totally passed his room we heard him trying to talk with guttural sounds. We walked into his room and asked if he would like to visit with the dogs . We were quick to recognize that his speech had been taken from him by the cruelty of a stroke. His kind face was frozen with no expression, but his eyes spoke volumes. Though they had seen many years, they had a deep brightness in them that spoke of his honest character and kindness. I gently took his hand and placed it on Bruno’s curly head. I was surprised he could move his fingers as he proceeded to pet Bruno. Though he couldn’t smile, you could see the joy in his whole being. He was trying to talk to us with unrecognizable words and sounds. The only sound I could recognize was the “s” sound. Penny was quick to look at the bulletin board behind him. Someone had lovingly placed pictures on it to tell his life story because he couldn’t. There was a picture of him with two mini schnauzers snuggled on his lap. We asked him about his dogs and he was anxious to try and tell us about them. We talked about his grandkids. I know it sounds strange, but soon we forgot his speech disability and we were communicating with our hearts. There was a newspaper clipping of him in a uniform, but the article was written in a foreign language so I couldn’t read what a hero he had been, but I was sure he was.
With time against us and many rooms to still visit, I lifted his arm back across his chest and told him we would come back to visit him again. I turned to walk away and heard him say “ssssn.” “Soon” indeed my new hero … soon!”
~Kathi Lee, Heart ‘n Home Pet Therapy Volunteer
This is what Pet Therapy in Volunteering is all about! Many of our hospice patients absolutely love to cuddle and love on these sweet and big-hearted doggies. Bruno and Ambrosia are just two of our wonderful Pet Therapy Canines. If you have a well-behaved dog that you think would make a great “visitor” or you are interested in volunteering, contact our Director of Volunteer Services today! You will make a world of difference in many individuals’ lives – and probably even your own!