Thursday, July 19, 2012
It has been hotter than proverbial blazes here during the last week - over 100 for several days. Dover and I had entered the inner zen state of wet noodle and could hardly move off the couch, much less visit patients in nursing homes. But the wind came up last night and a slightly cooler mass of air rolled in (no rain, alas), so Dover and I suited up, which entails clipping his photo ID on his harness, and off we went to visit his friends.
The bed of the first patient (J.) was empty, the second patient (also J,) was cozily asleep, and the third patient (another J.!) had vacated her room also. There were plenty of others we met in the doorways and halls along the way who pet, stroked, scratched, and talked with Dover, but we were perplexed about our official crew. After a leisurely stroll down a third hallway, we turned a corner and there was out first J. in a small group waiting to play a game. We had a joyful visit, and then we continued on our quest. We turned yet another corner,and there was the second J. chatting with some friends. After greetings all around, we slowly made our way back to the other end of the hall, but the third J. was sill asleep. We loitered and visited a few people outside her room.
Then J's roommate, who had never acknowledged us or even looked at us, in fact had never been in any other posture than wrapped up in bed with her face to the wall, appeared at the door. Without a word spoken, I understood that she had come out to tell us that J was awake. We went in and had a lovely visit.
On the way to the elevator, I noticed a woman in a doorway watching us; we turned back to visit with her. She knew dogs, and was very expert in her technique of stroking Dover's head and ears. Then she said: "I stole a dog once."
I asked her to tell me about it. Once upon a time, she and her husband had been driving along a road when she saw a man came out of a house. He put a small dog on the top step, and proceeded to kick it down the steps. "Stop the car!" my new friend shouted to her husband. "Back up!". She leapt out of the car, scooped up the dog, and told her husband to step on it. "You are stealing that dog," he said. "I know. That man doesn't deserve this dog," she replied. She gave the dog a new life. "It was a good dog," she said. "People who treat dogs like that don't deserve to keep them." Dover and I were clearly in the presence of a star of a person.
Kindness is noticing and acting, doing the unexpected and taking a risk to bring comfort where it is needed. Dover brings out the kindness and the memories of kindness in the people he meets and greets, and I am privileged to be a witness to these conversations, spoken or taking place through mutual presence, dog and person held in silent communication.