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Let me hold a dog one more time

Petey with the flying ears

All I was told is that she cries a lot. And that she is consumed with loss. Loss of her family, her home, her independence, her dog. And perhaps soon her life. She was now in hospice care and all she asked for was to hold a dog one more time. I did not know if the dog she so missed was large or small, furry or short haired, young or old, but I knew she missed having a dog in her life. I debated whether to bring Benny or Petey. If she had a medium or large dog Benny would be more appropriate. But when I looked at Petey, I just knew if any dog could bring a smile to her face, it would be the dog with the flying ears.

I entered her room and she was lying deep in the bed. Frail and small, her body looked swallowed up by the linens. I walked in and said "Someone is here to see you. This is Petey." And she smiled. She sat up as tall as she could and looked right at him. While her body may be failing her, her mind was sharp as could be. "Would you like me to put him on the bed with you," I asked. "She smiled again and nodded yes.

Petey curled up in the crook of her arm and snuggled close. She held him as if he was made of glass. She stroked his little tufts of fur on his head and he looked right up her. He licked her chin. She said "I think he likes me." I took out a tiny soft rubber brush and she brushed his little body all over. He sighed with such contentment. She started talking about her life, her loss, her dog. How did I know that her dog was as tiny as Petey? How did I know he was just what she needed to feel against her skin?

I explained Petey had no teeth and I adopted him when he was almost eleven years old. She asked why his eyes looked so blue and I explained he had cataracts. She kissed the sweet little dog and said he was just precious. We talked about how people can be so cruel to animals and to people. She seemed to share a bond with Petey with unspoken words.

We stayed about forty five minutes and several times she did cry during our visit. But when we left a broad smile was taking up the space on her face where tears had been and she asked if we would come back again.

When you visit people in hospice you really never know what you will encounter. You need the steadiest of dogs and the most patient handlers.

And you have the privilege of meeting the most incredible people whose paths in life you would never have crossed.

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