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My Nursing Home Visit:

A Dog's Pespective by Judy Stringer ~

California, USA. ~ I love riding in the car. As soon as I jump in the back and get my Therapy Dog vest on, I know where we’re going. The soft swaying of the car almost lulls me to sleep. Pulling into the parking lot, I suddenly be- come upright and alert. Hop- ping out of the car, I am calm and focused. This is one of my jobs, and it requires a calm and focused demeanor. As we head toward the large, glass entrance, I spy Frank dozing out front in his wheelchair. He likes being outside, soaking in the warm sun. Easing up to his side, I nuzzle his cool hand. Slowly his eyes open and a smile forms. “How’s my buddy today?” he says as he softly pats my head. “You go on in and say hi to every- one and I’ll see ya on the way out.”

I trot inside and catch a

glimpse of my reflection in the shiny floors. The delayed aroma from lunch reaches my nose, but the chance of finding even a crumb on this floor is remote. It’s spotless. Maybe Mary saved a piece of her cookie for me. Adele is awake and reading. Her face lights up when she sees me. “Hi baby! Come see Mommy.” I’m not a baby, I’m a very

mature 10 year old, but I don’t mind. She knows that special place I like rubbed behind my ears.

Next is Jerry. He has pros-

thetics for arms, and the first time I came into his room, he was concerned he would scare me with those titanium hooks. But they’re actually


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nice. He can give an awesome back massage.

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Quietly I pad into Jonah’s room. He always looks like he’s asleep, but I know he senses my presence. I nudge his arm as it hangs limply off the bed. There’s a slight tremor and I give it a few gen-

tle licks. Allen is next door. He talks

all the time and doesn’t make much sense. It’s okay though, maybe I’m one of the few that listens to him. We head down the hall

toward Mary’s room. She’s always propped up with pil- lows waiting for me. “Come here gorgeous! I have some- thing for you!”

She knows

it’s against the rules to feed me when I’m working, but she doesn’t care. I stealthily slide my nose under the blan- ket. Oatmeal today. Yum. She gives me a conspiratorial grin and winks. The staff person rolls her eyes as we leave the room.

In the middle of the hall is

a thin, gray haired man, with a bright red blanket over his legs, slumped forward in a wheelchair. I stop and lay my head on his lap. Carefully lift- ing his hand, he sets it on my head. So quiet, I can barely hear, a whisper of a voice escapes his cracked lips. He painstakingly tells me about a little dog he had when he was young. “He was brown and I named him Muddy. He loved to play ball and sleep on my bed.”

Just then a staff mem- ber comes by and looks at me with a strangely shocked look. You’re amazing Max,” she kindly murmurs. “We didn’t know if Bill could talk. He hasn’t said a word since he’s been here.”

Well, I say to myself, maybe he didn’t have a reason to. As I leave Bill and head up the hall. I notice a lone tear roll down his cheek. Beatrice is up ahead

on the right. She shuf- fles into her room with

The addition of nuts in salad... I always find to be beneficial. ~ Larry David

the help of a walker and eases onto the bed with a loud sigh. She’s always so thrilled to see me and talks in a lyrical En- glish accent. She wants me to jump on the bed with her, but I’m afraid I might crush her bony little frame. After all, I’m a big German Shepherd and am sure I outweigh her. So I put my front feet on the mattress and lay my head on my big soft paws. Her hand is thin and delicate. It feels like a butterfly fluttering against my nose and along my chin. I could doze off right now. But it’s time to leave , so she gives me a graceful hug as I turn to go.

As I head through the lobby,

I hear my name. Stopping to look behind me, I see the staff waving goodbye. “I’ll be back, “ I say to myself. “Take care of my friends.”

Note: The therapy dog in this article visits a local Sonoma Nursing Facility. His name as well as the resident’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.

Judy Stringer (925) 395-1920

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