We’re regulars at the nursing home where we do pet therapy now. Staff, patients, and family know us. Case workers know us. The dogs are known by name. Residents save bits of food for them. Family reminds me their loved one is in a certain room, and begs me to please stop and see that resident if I can. I am getting to know the residents myself. I have learned their quirks. I know who wants to love on the dogs, who would rather just watch, and which nurse is actively scared of them. She doesn’t cringe and look alarmed anymore; she knows our dogs will flatten against the wall when asked and not even look at her. She knows we’re respectful.
Today a resident I had not seen before was staring from down the hall. I wasn’t sure if she was curious, disgusted, or desperate to meet the dogs. After some time had passed, and the dogs had finished visiting several others, I walked closer, testing the waters. It was very quickly apparent her look was one of deep desire to meet and pet the dogs. She began petting Quest, admiring him.
“I haven’t seen a shepherd built like THIS in years. It’s so nice to see.” This certainly caught my interest. She continued. “They’re so beautiful!” Dare greeted her too, and she examined both of them, petting and stroking them. She then turned stern. “Young lady, I have something to say to you!”
I felt a bit nervous, but she softened, smiling. “You’re doing a good thing. We need more people to show dogs and breed dogs like this.”
Oh how I would have loved to know more about her life and her history! I had to attend to something else, so I couldn’t ask just then. The next time we walked by the woman, just about an hour later, she smiled widely. “Here’s my chance,” I thought to myself. I couldn’t wait to know what breed she’d owned, and what she’d done with dogs in her life.
But she didn’t remember us. She asked about the dogs, and told us the same things, as if she’d never seen us before. And I let her. I told her their names again. I smiled as she complimented them. She stroked Quest’s beautiful face, and told me she hadn’t seen a dog in months. I let her start new, and I will let her every time I see her.
I don’t even know her name, but I let her know I won’t be giving up this breed or my dreams with them any time soon. Good dog, Quest. Good dog, Dare.