This past Thursday was a nursing home visit night for us, and we decided to take Flattery and see how she’d do. Mr. Taleteller armed his bait bag with treats, I packed the camera and our visiting bag and we headed off. Bunny came along, as well, because we wanted Flattery to have a good role model for how to behave.
We planned on making it a short visit so that Flattery wouldn’t get overwhelmed. I didn’t think she’d have a hard time, but we always try to end nursing home visits on a good note. Even though it’s a positive experience, it’s still a lot to take in. Flattery is still really young and curious about everything, so we also didn’t want her to wear Mr. Taleteller out with her antics.
As we walked in, we ran into a lady that we always see there with her mother in the front entry lobby. They were having a chat and they were happy to see the girls come in. We explained that it was Flattery’s first visit and they both fussed over her. Flattery loved it. Bunny spent some time with them and then moved to another lady who was there with her mom on the other side of the lobby. The girls were both calm and feeling social, which I took as a good portent.
We decided to go straight to the Alzheimer’s wing, because they are usually the first ones in bed and there are a few ladies down there who especially love visiting with the dogs. They made a big fuss over Bunny and Flattery both, along with the pair of Golden Retrievers who were visiting, Sydney and Scout. We were telling them about Flattery being new in our house and how she’s really a puppy in a grown up body. I was recounting a story about her stealing cheese wrappers out of the trash and things were going pretty well.
That’s when Flattery noticed something. If you’ve visiting a nursing home, you might have noticed that often the walkers the seniors use to get around have tennis balls on the ends of the feet so that they have better traction. Flattery has a particular attraction to tennis balls. She is the most ball-driven Greyhound I’ve ever met. This is secretly the reason why Mr. Taleteller adores her. She saw the tennis ball attached to the walker (which, fortunately, was parked and not in use at the time) and could not resist further investigation. I could see the wheels turning in her brain. “Is that…what I THINK it is?”
Sure enough, she went for it, much to the delight and amusement of not only the senior residents, but the nurses as well. One of them got up and went to a desk and returned with an extra tennis ball they had and let Flattery have it to play with. Flattery was in heaven. She entertained the crowd for a little while, alternating between playing with the tennis ball that had been loaned to her and trying to pry the one she’d spotted on the bottom of the walker. After she had put on a show for a little while, we said our good-byes so that we could go up and visit some of the other residents in the other parts of the nursing home. Flattery watched the ball being returned with the heartbroken look that only a puppy can conjure, but we assured her there was a tennis ball waiting for her at home.
We walked back up and Flattery earned quite a fan club. Several ladies were all fussing over her while an older gentleman was loving on Bunny and whispering sweet nothings in her ear. One lady hugged Flattery and she tucked her nose up along the woman’s neck and just ate the attention up. I was really proud of how well she behaved with the people there.
She also had the opportunity to meet Winnie and Will, the Corgis who also visit. I was a little worried about how she’d do. She started by jumping up and down like a kangaroo or tiny bronco, but she settled down pretty quickly. Mr. Taleteller held onto her and let her sniff noses with Will. She began to realize that he was really a dog. Winnie also came over to meet her. Winnie and Will have both been around Greyhounds since an early age, so they were comfortable with her, and by the end of the meeting, she really wanted a chance to play with them, but I don’t think she wanted anything more than that.
Overall, Flattery seemed to feel that the nursing home is one of the most fascinating places on earth. Everybody loved her, there were tennis balls in all kinds of crazy places and she got to meet some other dogs, too. I couldn’t have asked for a better first visit for her. And yes, she did get her tennis ball when we got home.
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