Yesterday was supposed to be a rainy day, and my days of Spring Break are rapidly winding down. One thing I still needed to get done was take Bunny on a few hospice visits. I’ve put it off a little because the weather has been nice and we’ve been enjoying being out and about, and also because it means leaving Flattery at home alone where mischief abounds. I figured going on a rainy day would let us enjoy the rest of the sunny days of break guilt free, though, and so Bunny and I donned our rain gear and headed off to see our patients.
Both of the people we were going to visit live in large assisted living facilities. The thing about going to visit people there is that you never end up visiting just the one person you are going to see. It’s just not possible, at least, for me it isn’t. As you walk through, dozens of people will comment and ask if they can see the dog. A lot of them are people who won’t have the opportunity to see another dog, and I think about how I would feel if I lived in a place where I couldn’t see a dog anymore. There’s really no saying no.
It’s a funny thing, but once one person notices Bunny, it’s like little ripples of awareness spread throughout the room. I’ll hear one person say, “Oh, look, a dog” and then the other murmurs soon follow. “Is that a Greyhound?” “Look, she’s so cute!” “What is she doing here?” In the first nursing home, this happened as we passed by the dining room and everyone was there for dinner. I felt a little funny about taking her through to see people while others were eating, and we were there to see our one specific patient, so I smiled and waved and we went on through.
After our visit with our patient, we went back out, and by then, most of the people were finished eating. When a lady asked if she could see Bunny, I felt less concerned about going in. Soon, everyone was asking to see her and asking questions about her, which I was happy to answer. We spent a fair amount of time there with Bunny giving each person a bit of her special attention. That’s just the second wave, though.
After we finally depart from the residents, we get to spend time with the staff. I sometimes think the people who work in the nursing home are more excited to see the dogs than the residents. Today, one of the women ran to her office and came back with dog treats to feed Bunny. It always makes me laugh a little to myself the way people fuss over her there and rush to get things they think she will like, whether they work in the nursing home or live there. We used to visit a woman who insisted that her daughter take her to the store once a month to buy the biggest box of dog treats she could get so she’d be ready for dog night at the nursing home.
The truth of the matter is, she just enjoys the attention. Bribing her isn’t necessary to get her affection. It’s one of the things that I instinctively like more about dogs than the people I often run into. There are no ulterior motives with a dog most of the time. They are pretty up front about what they want, whether it’s your attention, some food, a walk or a trip to the bathroom. Even if they want your spot on the couch, they let you know, they don’t bother with subterfuge. That’s not to say that dogs can’t be sneaky, after all I live with Flattery, but there’s just a unique genuine openness about dogs that seems to appeal to us all.
I try to be very generous with our time when we go to visit because it costs us nothing, and there’s always the chance that spending time with Bunny will lead someone to adopt a Greyhound of their own. When I think of all the joys that sharing my life with dogs has brought me, I want to share it with as many other people as I can. Greyhounds happen to be particularly good about meeting people in general, although there are certainly exceptions to the rule, and meeting them is often a novelty for a lot of people. Meeting one is often all it takes for someone else to want one of their own. All I have to do is hold the other end of the leash and answer questions. Just like the little ripples that move through a room when we walk by, other little ripples can lead to larger things.