Wednesday, March 10, 2021



As I walk through the doors of the nursing home my mind wanders to the upcoming Christmas season. I think of all these who will not have a Christmas. They will not have a loved one come visit. There is so much sadness this time of year. Surely there is something I could do to brighten up the season for these people. So many are just old, can't get around, use walkers and canes and are in wheelchairs.  Then there are those who have been bedridden for years, do not speak or smile, have nothing to live for. 

My little black Sheltie pulls me towards the Alzheimer's ward and my mind snaps back to the present. We are here to bring these people a little joy and some contact from the outside world. My Sheltie, Amy, loves to come here. She does not mind that these people can't speak sensibly, that they pet her with shaky hands and faltering strokes. She wags her tail and smiles up at them. Some are able to smile back and others just stare at her. She continues on from person to person, she is happy to be there, happy to be giving of herself. She offers a paw to a hunched up old lady sitting alone. The woman reaches for the paw and speaks a little gibberish to her. Amy kisses her hand and wags her tail, the woman smiles for a moment.

An old man with a walker is leaning against the wall and holding on to the railing. He looks so thin and frail His head is bent and he seems so sad. He probably doesn't even know where he is. He reminds me of my old father who is in the beginning  stages of Demetia.  The ward is a horseshoe shape and as we continue around the ward he will be the last one we will see. As we approach, Amy seems to know that he is not really with us. She slowly goes around to the front of the walker; she does not want to startle him. She sits directly under his face that is staring at the floor. She is sitting, looking up at him and all of a sudden his eyes light up and he smiles at her. She stands and tries to lick his hand. His eyes are bright and alive, for a moment he is here in the present. Then just as quickly the light goes out and he has gone back to wherever his mind takes him. Even just for the two minutes it was wonderful to see him come into the present, to recognize my little dog.  As he went back into himself, Amy got up and headed for the door. She knew there was nothing more she could do. She was ready to continue on through the nursing home, making people smile and giving joy to many.

I wrote this story about 10 or more years ago. Amy was a little tri color Sheltie who was so intuitive and loved people.  She did many visits throughout her life time and was one of my best therapy dogs. She just knew people so well and she knew what to do. I had a sable male named Luke who was also an awesome dog. He was very gentle and perfect for visiting bedridden people. This is one of the short stories that will be in my Sheltie Heart book. I just need to set aside the time and finish it. 

Once the Covid crisis is over some of you may think of sharing your Sheltie with those who need some joy and outside contact from you and your dog.

Be safe, be well!


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