InspirEmail No 141 - August 25, 2008
'Inspirational messages to refresh the spirit and boost the emotional bank account'

Pooch on the Premises

'Oh, Kathy! I didn't even know you were in town, and you brought your doggie to visit me, too,' squealed Marvene. Her beautiful, beaming smile and upbeat attitude welcomed us into her room at Lakepoint Nursing Home.

Prior to my mother's death, the two had been nursing home roomies. Marvene watched over Mother like a guardian angel during that time. She was a great source of strength and comfort to me as my mother slowly drifted away, and remained a very special friend.

Hoping to surprise her, I had tiptoed in unannounced with Shiloh, my Miniature Schnauzer. Marvene's aged eyes danced with glee as she reached out to stroke Shiloh while charming her with sweet, puppy-dog talk. In her younger days of independence and good health a beloved pet had always warmed her heart and home.

Shiloh and I had slipped in the back entrance hoping not to cause too much commotion, and to avoid bustling hallways. I feared wheelchairs and such might make her skittish, but I certainly knew that 'seeing the people' would not be an issue.

Shiloh acquainted herself with Marvene, then the stuffed animal collection adorning her bed. 'Shiloh, down,' I commanded, taking a beautiful teddy bear from her mouth.

'It's alright, Shiloh. You aren't bothering a thing.' Marvene was cooing to her again.

'Oh, that's so cute - she just wants a toy, Kathy. Let her have it . . .'

'She has dozens of her own stuffed toys at home - don't let her fool you. Plus, she has no business on that priceless quilt made by your mother, Marvene.'

After a lap or two around the room and sniffing everything in sight, Shiloh settled in as if she had visited umpteen times. Then an unexpected onslaught of residents began filling the room. Word had spread like wildfire - there was a pooch on the premises!

Aides accompanied folks in wheelchairs, ambulatory residents shuffled in with walkers and canes; several oxygen machines and IV poles were rolled in to boot. Even a few staff members followed the slow-moving stampede, as they wondered about the unusual ruckus in the north wing. Shiloh relished being centre stage and greeted each new visitor with total delight. This rambunctious young dog was gentle unlike anything I had ever witnessed. She knew instinctively that her new friends were delicate and she must behave like a lady. I wondered why she couldn't behave like that at home!

The evening progressed into an all-out, impromptu party for this crowd of frail folks. I was thrilled to see Shiloh provide such joy at the end of another humdrum day in their lives. Each resident could hardly wait to get his or her hands on a 'real live critter!' They were alive with smiles and giggles. Nevertheless, eyes brimmed with tears when speaking of pets they had adored in days gone by. Knowing they were days never to be recaptured, my heart fluctuated between aching and enjoying the bliss of the moment for these ageing souls.

One tiny lady was obviously confused with a blank, distant look in her eyes. The aide at her side attempted to explain about a pet visiting, but she didn't seem to grasp one word. Then she spotted Shiloh! As if by magic, this bitsy, little gal was transformed before my very eyes. She became alert and began to recite tales of pets she had loved in her younger days. All the while she gently stroked Shiloh, stopping her stories only long enough to plant kisses right on top of Shiloh's head.

Yes, Shiloh sensed she was 'good medicine' for her new but fragile friends. Once the party ceased and the room emptied, she snuggled in my lap with her eyes fixed on the door. I know she was thinking, 'Doesn't anyone else need to see me? Hey, I can even do tricks for you!'

Without a doubt, she felt the love these kind strangers had for her. She felt it with each caress, each kiss, and the loving words they lavished upon her. The bond between humans and pets is an amazing and beautiful life force, and probably more beneficial than most pills in a bottle. And, it had been a two-way street - the oldsters were also good medicine for Shiloh. Canines are never happier than when pleasing humankind.

I gave Marvene a hug and peck on the cheek, Shiloh gave her a wet, sloppy kiss on the tip of her nose, and we said our goodbyes. Walking out, I felt a smile on my face and a spring in my step that hadn't been there earlier in the day. I began praising Shiloh for her excellent behaviour, and when I glanced down - she was prancing.

Written by Kathleene S. Baker
First published as An Impromptu Party by

Kathy resides in Plano, Texas with husband Jerry, and two precious pups, Hank and Samantha. She enjoys writing, needlework, and fishing. As a freelancer, she has contributed to newspapers, anthologies, magazines, online ezines, Chicken Soup for the Soul and writes a weekly column entitled The Heart of Texas.

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