This past Saturday Dover and I set off for a rehab/nursing home we visit regularly. We don't usually go on weekends, but because of the incessant rain we hadn't been for a while (who wants to pet a wet dog?). However, when the sun broke through the gray, I put his railroad train neckerchief on his collar, attached his photo ID tag, and we hopped into the car to head south. Dover gets very eager when I deck him out in his finery and can hardly wait to get on with the visit. We arrived, got on the elevator and pushed the button to the second floor; we shared the ride with a staff person who told us about how she had recently lost her own dog - aged 20!
The elevator door opens into a moderate sized common area. Usually only a few people are sitting here watching TV, but this day we stepped into a crowd of about 30 people gathered to enjoy two women (and a guitar) who were singing catchy and familiar songs. No sooner had we taken a step out of the elevator than - without skipping a beat - these women launched into "How much is that Doggie in the window." It was a big hit. Dover sat down and watched the action; he sensed the festive atmosphere and was quite fascinated by the guitar as he had never seen one before. All hands reached out to pet him. Petting techniques vary from person to person: Some apply the whole head, two handed deep massage - roughing up his head, his ears and his chin; some pet him and stare off remembering past dogs; some knuckle him because their hands don't open; some dart a hand out and give him a singe pat; some stare and give an imperceptible shake of the head indicating they don't want to pet him; and some just never stop stroking him from head to stern and it is difficult to figure out how to move on. There are four questions I am asked over and over. How old is she? Is she a boy or a girl? What kind of dog is Dover? How much does he weigh?
The show ended and we made our way down the hall. We stopped by one room to visit a person who likes Dover. She opened her eyes, but she was tired and just watched me - never moving. I mentioned that I wasn't sure when to come - I didn't want to come too early because of lunch, or too late because of supper. After a pause she looked at me and said "You caught me napping!" She still never moved, but there was a little glint of laughter in the corner of her eyes. I had Dover do a little trick for her and said we'd be back.