Thursday, April 26, 2012

Life Lessons

Seems like every time Gabby has a job, I get a review on lessons in life. What I was reminded today:

1.  An elderly man from Carrington, North Dakota. He says, "it was the perfect town to grow up in, and still is."  I said, "many cities could learn from it." He said, "no, we won't tell anyone, we'll leave them alone! We don't want anyone else corrupting it." hahah. He talked of his career during his youth and his eyes began to sparkle. He created shopping malls all around the world. He especially enjoyed living in Europe. He said, with the memory clearly in his eyes, "I loved my job. I loved working every day. It was fun!"

Gotta love what you do!

2.  91 year old African American lady, never had any children but was a nanny to 3 for a family. When the mother passed away, the now adult children called and told her and asked, "Can we call you Mother?" and she calls them her kids. They live back East but every birthday they send a card and money. She said, "I've lived my whole life, accepting everyone for the way they treat me, not by the color of their skin." Later in the conversation she told me that her "kids" were white.

Treat others the way you want to be treated!

3.  Elderly lady, with Gabby's head on her lap, telling Gabby, "I love you Gabby." I let them know, "Gabby loves you too!!" She then answered to Gabby, "I got your sugar!" 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."

4. Crotchety older man in the corner says, "Is that a dog?" I answer, yes, this is my dog, Gabby, do you want to see her?" He answered gruffly, "No, I was bitten by a dog once! Get out of here!"

Being crotchety is unattractive!

I was recently asked, "What do you enjoy, where you just lose track of time?" I thought of gardening, listening to music, reading a good book, and of course, taking Gabby to her 'job'. Seriously, I can get so involved with the individuals, I completely lose track of time! There are so many people in need and so little time!! I am always reminded of how fortunate I am to have Gabby in this program and the time to share her with others. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012


So when I received the list from SPCA of our assignments this half of the year, I won't lie....I was a little nervous about today.....
Today's location was in The Castro at a Hospice House. Yea, after only a few months ago, we were moments away of placing my father-in-law into Hospice care and here we are, visiting a Hospice Home. Well, one big difference is that the in this particular house, there are probably a few Aids Patients, along with other terminally ill. I talked about my reservations to my husband, prayed that I would gain the strength to deal with this. Well, as the day was approaching, again, it was clear, as in the past when I was unsure of an environment that I was unfamiliar being in.... "this has nothing to do with YOU Barbara! It has everything to do with the patients and Gabby spreading joy with the patients ability to LOVE and receive LOVE, unconditionally!
So, we arrived at our destination about 10 minutes early and went right to work.
Our first visit was with a 69 year old gentle man (yes, splitting the word on purpose). With barely a voice left, we talked about the past, pets that we owned that made an impression in our lives, Gabby antics and her day-to-day life. It was a sweet exchange all the while Gabby snuggled beside the gentle man in his bed. The patient received a personal phone call. I asked if we should leave and he nodded his head in agreement.
Our 2nd visit was with another elderly man, he did not state his age. Gabby felt at peace with him, crawled up to his upper arm, enjoyed his calm demeanor, and swiftly FELL ASLEEP!!! I asked the patient if he was OK and he answered, "Can you just leave her here?" How sweet is that? We talked more Gabby stories, his Christmas cards hanging on the wall, and the presence of Valentine's Day approaching and how he needed to purchase a few cards. Finally, after about 15 minutes, he said, "Well, maybe someone else will enjoy a visit with Gabby." Instead of saying Good-bye, sounding so "final".... I said, "Thank you for loving Gabby. She really enjoyed that."
Our next visit was pretty difficult. An older woman, lying in the bed, hands clenched together, eyes mostly closed, with another woman by her bedside. When we approached the patient, the other woman at her bedside said, "Mom, there is a little dog here to see you. Do you want to see the dog?" Ohhh, it was her daughter.....the patient really did not understand. After talking to her, placing Gabby on her bed, and talking some more...the daughter and I were able to get 'Mom' to open her eyes eyes a few times. She actually answered, "Yes" when asked if she liked dogs. Meanwhile, the daughter continued to get her mother to open her eyes, acknowledge Me or Gabby, pleading, "Mommy, do you want to see the dog?" the daughter was so desperate to get her mother to 'connect'.. This simple conversation made me ponder how death is so difficult on so many levels. There is no easy way out of this life. It is difficult for everyone involved.
Our last patient of the day was upstairs. Once we arrived, I placed Gabby on the woman's bed, as she sat in all of the previous visits. Gabby refused to lay down. She would only sit. The woman and I talked about Gabby's history, stories, blah blah, still, it was apparent that Gabby was not comfortable. Not sure why. The woman was very nice, talkative and pet Gabby on her chest the entire time. I just found it very odd that Gabby would not relax as she did on the other beds. Maybe after 45 minutes Gabby was tired of visiting? Did Gabby sense something else? Not sure.
We said our good-byes, thanked the staff, and directly behind us in the hallway, a funeral home personnel was arriving with a gurney to pick up a body. Yes, we were at a hospice home. Death is here, but you'd never know it with the sweet, loving, understanding staff that truly loved their roles.
So, as apprehensive as I was to arrive to this new place, I depart with a high regard for individuals who opt for such a position in working in this environment, am humbled in my own existence, forever grateful for each healthy breath I take, and thankful that Gabby played a roll in providing a bit of happiness and contentment to someones last days on this earth.
We'll return to this particular home later in the month and THIS time, I'll truly look forward to spreading our love and reaching out to those who need it most. Yup, chalk this one up for another successful visit.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 Gabby had her first job of the year. We returned to one of our favorite locations. It was soooooooooo crazy! I tried something new, parking in their parking garage that allows visitors. Well, apparently they DON'T allow visitors. I wasn't "approved" prior so it made A LOT of confusion. Finally, they ended up giving me a spot.....Funny thing? There were TONS of empty spots!! This is an elderly residential care facility and not many DRIVE so there were sooooo many spaces available!! As I left the garage and walked up the stairway, I was all turned around by not walking into the front door as usual. I asked someone to point me in the direction of the front door when a worker saw us and was excited SPCA arrived! I explained that I was here to see a certain person in a certain program. She ignored me and literally whisked me away to a room I had never visited before. I again explained that all I needed was to find the front door because another program was waiting for me. Well, we entered a smaller room, elderly people in wheel chairs were sitting in a circle. I asked this gal to please let my gal know where I was and that I would be there shortly. We made our way around the room and most responded to Gabby. It was GREAT because the director in charge of the room just let me be! I told Gabby stories, she performed her 'tricks' as we made our way around the room.

We came upon a lady reclined in a chair. I told her Gabby's name and age. I asked her if she would like to see my dog. She was happy to reach out with her arthritic fingers to touch Gabby's soft fur. She looked right up at me and said, "You love Gabby?" I said, "Yes, I love Gabby." She said many times that Gabby was a lucky dog to have so much love from me. She explained that she can tell that I loved Gabby so much. It was the sweetest moment and she was so genuine.

Yea, I'd say Gabby and I are such a perfect match when we visit. It is such a great, giving feeling that we BOTH get, being close to those that are sometimes unreachable in our society.

After making our rounds in this one room, we departed and ended up in the room that had the original appointment. Thankfully, the director in this room is so sweet, she totally understood why someone would 'snag us up'. We made our rounds and we spent most of our time at a table of Chinese woman. It was very interesting. They haven't spent much time around a dog and did not know how to 'pet'. They would poke her face with a finger, tap her chin and poke her body. Needless to say, Gabby wasn't too pleased. She gave me a look that clearly said, "PLEASE, make them STOP!" It was hilarious!! Poor girl. I just allowed them to poke but would eventually take their hand and show them how to 'stroke' instead of poke. At one point, one lady poked Gabby's face so hard that Gabby YELPED!! We quickly ended the meeting.

One of the last people we visited was completely blind. This lady is such a beautiful woman. I don't know her story.....was she born blind or did it develop with age? I don't know. She isn't very old, maybe in her late 50's. Her heart is so unbelievably SWEET! She strokes Gabby lovingly as she speaks of wanting to take Gabby home, or teaching Gabby how to play dominoes with her! haaha!! She is amazing and I am always happy when she is in the room. We can learn so much from others.

So, the New Year is off to a GREAT start. We are working on our 3rd year of being in the SPCA Animal Assisted Therapy program and both Gabby and I could not be happier to reach out to the animal lovers of the world!