When Tears Are in Your Eyes

The True Value of Companionship

Millie Comforts Dementia Patients
Millie and Joan_102117

Ellen spends Saturday at Hillcrest, a retirement community in La Verne, California, as part of her Master of Gerontology studies. Every week, she meets with the same resident, let’s call her Joan; and, every week, Ellen re-introduces herself to her buddy.

Joan lives in the memory care unit and has dementia; so, she never remembers Ellen from one week to the next. Joan doesn’t remember her husband either; but, she likes watching sports and this nice man comes to watch the games with her.

This week, Ellen took Millie to meet Joan and the other memory care residents. You can see the joy in Joan’s photo – something Joan has too little of in her life these days, which makes her a little cantankerous at times. Who are you?! Why are you here?! I don’t know you!

Yesterday, Millie brought the True Value of Comfort and smiles of joy with her to Hillcrest as, one by one, the residents held and petted or, if they couldn’t remember how, patted her.

Millie is a Toxirn (half Cairn Terrier – half Chihuahua). She has the calm, even-keeled disposition of a Cairn without the jitteriness and fear-aggression of a Chihuahua.

One resident who couldn’t remember how to pet a dog (perhaps he never had one), just held Mille and patted her – a little hard for a love pat – but, she seemed to know that this stranger didn’t mean her any harm. No growling or snapping or barking. Millie sat in his arms and let him love her as best he could.

Ellen took Millie’s Halloween dress off, so the residents could run their fingers through her fur and pet (or pat) her without a fabric barrier. That’s when some began to talk about the dogs they’d grown up with or had when their children were young.

They’ve long since forgotten the names of those children, even the ones who visit regularly; but, they still remember the names of their childhood four-legged companions. They remember things they did together as children with their furry friends. They remembered what it was to be young and carefree and loved by their dogs – as only dogs can love.

And, while they held Millie on their laps, they related those stories and re-lived those happy times of younger days.

As Ellen shared her and Millie’s experience with the residents of Hillcrest, it struck me just how much comfort dogs can be to the old, the ill, the infirm, those struggling to find normalcy in a world that, for whatever reason, has been turned on its head.

What is the True Value of Dogs? One value, without a doubt, is Comfort.

When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all
I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

That’s the True Value of Companionship

~ George

Huntington Memorial Hospital Therapy Dog
Huntington Memorial Hospital Therapy Puggle_012517

I didn’t look anywhere near as sick as I was the week of 23 January 2017.  Two of my doctors said no one survives what happened to me and I should be dead.

Being separated from my dogs while I was hospitalized was hell; so, you can imagine the pure joy I felt when this therapy Puggle walked into my room.

I don’t know how much, if any, impact this pup had on my recovery; but, I can tell you that he lifted my spirits up to the clouds!  Now that I think about it, I met Millie for the first time months later, the same week I was released to return to work.

Some angels choose fur instead of wings.