Ginger (Shih Tzu) and I recently made our first visit to Four Winds Nursing Home in Verona. They had specifically requested a visit for a handful of hospice patients, but we were welcomed to walk the halls and visit others as well.
As we made our rounds, several staff members would mention one particular man that we MUST see. His door was closed when we passed by, so we continued with our visits and would check back periodically. Towards the end of our visit, the door was finally open. We were greeted by the man’s daughter who was so afraid that they had missed us.
The man was seated in a wheel chair, eyes closed, and appeared to be sleeping. His daughter spoke to him, as if he was awake, and talked about her childhood dog. I sat next to him holding Ginger so he could reach her, but his hands did not seem to work. His daughter took his hands and began to rub them through Ginger’s fur as she spoke about their long-ago pet. The man never spoke, he never opened his eyes and appeared unresponsive…except for one lone tear that ran down his face. I don’t know what that man was feeling, but I think his daughter did because she was also tearing up.
This is why we do this. Ginger helped facilitate a deep connection between a dying man and his daughter. Maybe that was about a long-lost pet, or youth, or happy memories, but it was made possible by a dog.