Both of the girls, Shelby and Nikki, enjoyed their jobs visiting at the nursing home this week.
That’s why they have the big smiles.
Shelby knows when it’s important to be good. She will hold a sit-stay while I walk around putting all the chairs away at the end of our visit.
Nikki doesn’t like to touch the floor so this is no problem for her either. It’s not that Nikki is following a command, it’s that it’s not safe on the floor when you are tiny.
You might think the dogs are just getting petted, no big deal. It’s tiring work though. There’s the behaving, the going to whoever I direct them to, all the odd smells, and different people constantly coming and going through the main gathering room that we meet in.
However the rewards are great and the nap is well earned.
Nikki, Shelby and I visit our friends at the nursing home twice every month. We love them! How could you not?
Last evening when we arrived, Bernice said to me “I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve been waiting for you all day!” We are listed on the monthly activity calendar as Pet Therapy on the second and fourth Mondays of every month. Bob, Andy, Norma, George, Max, Helen, and an ever changing assortment of others sit and visit with us for an hour.
Bernice then went on to tell me that she told the servers at supper that she needed her ice cream now! They commented that she wasn’t done with her meal yet. She said it didn’t matter, she needed her ice cream because the dogs were coming and she didn’t want to be late! Bernice said “I pushed that food aside and ate my ice cream and got out here to wait for you.” She ate the best, most important part. A woman after my own heart.
We meet in a main area where people congregate so that we can visit with a number of people. Nikki likes to stay on the couch unless I put her on someone’s lap. No touching the floor for that girl. She sits in the middle so the first people to make it to the ends of the couch get to spend lots of time with Nikki.
Shelby is more a working kind of girl. She likes to keep making the rounds and visiting new arrivals and passers by. If someone goes by without petting her, she tries to follow them down the hall. She knows her job and is determined to do it.
So although we are visiting with the group, Bernice tells everyone that goes by “this is my dog Nikki. And that one over there,Shelby, is my dog too.” Sometimes I take the leash and make sure everyone gets a chance to pet the dogs. This makes Bernice say, in a pitiful voice, “but I want to hold her”. Still, we try to play fair and take turns.
All the residents thank me for coming every time we visit. And Bernice tells me over and over how happy she is that we come to visit. I think I’m making a real impression. Bernice asked me what my name was last night! That is quite a rarity. I am just the dogs’ chauffeur most of the time.
At the end of our visit, I ask Nikki if she is hungry and wanting her food. Her ears go up, she deigns to jump on the floor, to everyone’s amusement, and we say our goodbyes. Two more weeks and we do it all again. I can’t wait!
Baxter had his first visit to the nursing home last night. It went well. Of course it did, this is Baxter we’re talking about. Our friends who normally visit with us weren’t able to come so I thought it might be a good time to introduce Baxter. The folks we visit have heard all about him so I thought they might like to meet him. He was a hit. Our friend Bob said that’s my kind of dog.
Of course Shelby was a hit too. She’s the most reliable of my dogs on a visit. Always happy to work and spend time with mommy.
And the ever popular Nikki is a crowd favorite. She’s so cute that sometimes I liken her to a stuffed toy.
I didn’t seem to be doing very well at performing caring acts during this holiday season. I wasn’t sure if I didn’t remember the acts after I did them or if there just weren’t many acts of thoughtfulness. So I decided to keep a list. This turned out to be a very good idea because now I am looking for ways to be kind and show thoughtfulness so I can put it on my list. Maybe not the best motivation but acts become habits and this is a good thing.
First on my list was writing a note to a coworker on my special puffin notepad that I save for special occasions. I told her what a good job she always does of preparing some reports that I need to proofread every month. Her good job makes my life easier.
Second on the list is taking in a family member’s cat for “two weeks” while they make accommodations for a change in living circumstances. I suspect this kitty will be here more than two weeks. Infact I suspect he will never leave. I’m ok with that. Our cat population is down. By the way, I am taking him to be neutered on Monday.
Also on the list, writing some personal heartfelt notes in Christmas cards. A number of people have shown me a great amount of compassion this year. Especially at the time of my Mother’s death. I have some pretty impressive friends and family.
This morning I made a call that I have been wanting to make to the local newspaper. They have a column called Sound Off where you can make comments that are published. I thanked our township folks for having the display of Christmas lights lit up when I drive by to go to work at 5 o’clock every morning. It always gives me a smile to start the day.
And no list of kind acts would be complete without my favorite, the therapy dog visits that Nikki, Shelby, and I make to our friends at the nursing home. I’m not sure it’s fair to count this as a kind act though because I get as much out of it as the friends that I visit.
So my goal for the rest of the holiday season is to continue doing kind acts to add to my list. May your list be long and equally as fulfilling. Merry Christmas, my friends.
As per my e-mail moniker, I am the Sheltie Queen. I am one of the founders of our local sheltie rescue group. I love their furry bodies, their long noses, and their herding attitudes. For the most part, I live and breathe shelties. I am happy this way. Life is good. Why then, for the past couple of years have I had this increasing obsession with getting a pit bull? I see them or pictures of them and am reduced to cooing, ohhh…a pit bull.
Well, for one thing they are beautiful dogs. They have sleek bodies, chunky heads, and their coats come in so many gorgeous colors. I am partial to the brindles, chocolates, and blues. That really narrows it down. Not! They are active dogs and that fits in with the hiking, walking, and playing that we like to do. I have met some wonderful pit bulls and been the recipient of more than a few affectionate kisses from them. Above is Xena, a pit bull that I met at the local pound, she jumped up so as to be close enough to deliver kisses all over my face. Heaven!
Ultimately though, one of the reasons I am drawn to them is I see them as the underdog of the dog world. They are maligned and discriminated against. It is in my nature to help the downtrodden and needy. That’s how I got started in rescue work in the first place. My goal is, when I am ready, to get a pit bull and train it for therapy dog work. Then we can work as a team to combat this stigma. And I will have another canine friend to assist with the therapy dog work that I love. It seems the ultimate win. As we visit and brighten the days of people who aren’t fortunate enough to have the joy of their own dogs, we show how loving pit bulls can be.