Yesterday, I received the call: There’s a new hospice patient that loves dogs… would I bring James in to visit with her? So, today, off we went. This will be the start of another six-month (plus or minus) journey.
We’ve travelled down this road now five times. Each journey very different, but the end, the same. I have been visiting hospice patients now for over two years. The loss of my first patient was something I had difficulty handling. We had been visiting her every week for three months and the last time I saw her, she had been sitting up in a chair, petting James and chatting away to me. I fully expected that we’d be seeing her the following week. But, two days later, she was gone… I think it jolted me into the reality of the situation. Subsequent patients have been very different; their time visited by us ranging from three weekly visits to weekly visits extending way beyond the six-month life expectancy. I have come to realize that for as long as they have, I can help provide comfort and companionship in their lives by bringing my therapy dog James in to spend time with them.
I always keep the first new patient visit brief, perhaps 10-15 minutes. So, today I introduced myself to Marie and asked her if she’d like to visit a few minutes with my therapy dog James. Marie was sitting up in a chair, surrounded by 3 neighbors who had stopped in for a visit. They were all dog lovers – so all 4 welcomed us in with smiles ready to pet James. Marie told me that she had had many dogs – but of course, now, she couldn’t have one. James sat right by her side and she pet his ears and head while she talked. Each of her friends told stories about their dogs through the years. This was a nice opening for our first introductory visit. Not wanting to interrupt the visit from her friends any longer, I asked Marie if she’d like to have a visit from James next week…. explaining that he comes to visit folks every Wednesday afternoon. Oh, yes, she said, I’d like that. And so, another journey begins… James will be there providing comfort for as long as he can be of help.