When I started visiting nursing homes with Treat, I'm sure that she wasn't perfect, but it's hard to remember that. There was gentle coaching and training that happened, and she had a natural aptitude for visiting. She was tolerant enough to let a little old blind lady poke at her face and fuss with her collar. Going up to people to say hi became natural for her and there was never any medical equipment or condition that ever deterred her. I admit that when I started visiting with Bunny after Treat had passed, it was hard for me not to resent starting over a little bit and also not to just miss her perfection after working and working with Bunny to try to get her to do what I wanted.
That's not to say that Bunny doesn't do well, though. She does and the people there are always thrilled to see her. I guess part of it is just that insecure part of me inside that everyone has who worries that everyone else's dog is doing so much better at visiting than my own. It's still hard for me not to think of her as the inexperienced youngster of the group. There are some dogs in our group who have been visiting longer than Bunny has been alive. I can't expect her to behave as if she has more experience than her short life has been blessed with. I suppose it's the same thing I did as a kid, too, only acting up and embarrassing my parents when there were other people to witness the event. Sorry Mom and Dad! It was Julie who made me do it.
Most of the visits we make are unremarkable and not really worth talking a lot about. They're just ordinary visits that allow me to share my dog with others, tell stories and forget about the cares of my day, and be transported through many elderly people's words back to times of dogs who lived long ago. Recently, we added a new Thursday visit to our roster at a new facility that quite honestly is so nice that I wish I could live there. It's a very new, modern facility, but it feels so homey and comfortable. The residents all have rooms, but there are different little lounges throughout the place and it's a very common sight to see groups of people gathered in nooks and alcoves chatting away. The nursing staff is sweet and compassionate, too.
While we were visiting this week, Bunny and I had walked down a hallway and around a small loop in the building. I almost didn't go, but Bunny seemed eager to stretch her legs and I wanted to work on keeping her attention on me, so we set off to see if anyone wanted to chat. In the far back hallway, we met a woman who said that there was a lady who was laying down and she needed to get some help for her. I wasn't quite sure what she was talking about, but in order to try to keep her calm, I agreed that I'd see what I could do. We went around a corner and found a woman lying on the floor in the middle of the hallway. Definitely not good!
I walked around her and leaned down to ask if she was okay. She smiled and said something about needing to get back up, and I could see her wheelchair a bit behind her. I remembered seeing her in the chair earlier. I told her that her friend had gone to get help and that I'd just stay there with her until help got there. I sat in the floor beside her and Bunny laid down. She wanted to hold someone's hand, and darned if Bunny didn't offer her paw while I held the other hand. I was pretty surprised, but Bunny laid there quietly, leaning down to sniff the lady from time to time and distract her while we waited for the nurse's aide to find the head nurse to help get the woman moved a little to see if she was alright. Several of the people in our group walked by and commented on her sweet behavior.
I honestly can say that I have been proud of Bunny over a lot of things, but this one was one that I will remember as one of her sweetest moments. With all the ugliness that we see in the world from people, sometimes it's nice just to have a paw to hold on to. I'll always believe that the world would be a better place if we all took a moment to behave more like our dogs!
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