On Wednesdays, James and I visit hospice patients. We are currently visiting two patients who are both in the same healthcare facility. Our visits always leave me glad that I made the 56-mile round trip to get there and back. When leaving, you know, without a doubt, that you have brightened that person’s day. How could I not feel good about that – no matter how far I had driven?
Today was an off day for James. He has them – rarely – but they do occur. He was excited as we prepared for the visit – he gets a thorough brushing and I suit him up in his therapy dog vest and ID badge. He was set-to-go and jumped in the car. No problems there….. had there been at this point, I would have called off the visit. Anyway, on we went. He was greeted by several residents as we made our way through the lobby. We arrived at our first patient’s room and he simply didn’t engage – she was in bed today, rather then sitting in her chair, so I directed him to lie down along side her on the bed (he’s done this before with her). He kept fidgeting, changing position. Just not settling down. The patient said, James is restless today! I then directed him to get off the bed and he quietly lay down on the floor. He assumed a relaxed position – and the patient started to direct her conversation to me. Again, had he not been fine settling down on the floor by my feet, we would have left. Your dog comes first – always. Never force a visit. In the end, we had a patient who was happy that we stopped by – and James found himself a spot that satisfied him while a short visit ensued. We then headed to the second patient and the same scenario occurred. This time he sat looking out the window (wooded surroundings – possibility of seeing a bird or a squirrel!), I chatted for a short while and we said our good-byes.
If only they could talk… I don’t feel that James was ill in anyway. I think he was just having an off day – and because he loves his visiting opportunities, I don’t want to force him into anything and have him start to balk at going. Read your dog’s signs… if he could talk, what would he be telling you?