This past Tuesday evening, Hubby and I ventured to the V.A. Hospital to make a couple of visits.
I recently found out that an old high school friend of mine, Bob, is in the hospital battling cancer. I hadn't seen Bob in quite some time, but that didn't stop me from wanting to see him and spend some time with him. We were great friends in school, and shared a love of theater - him in front of the curtain, me behind it. He was the lead in several high school plays, including "Tevya" in "Fiddler on the Roof," and was awesome. After high school, we lost touch, Bob got married to his high school sweetheart, joined the service and had a family. I went my own way as well, and the years flew by. We saw each other a while back at a reunion, and although it was great fun catching up, we lost touch again. Such is life sometimes.
Thanks to Face Book, I've been in touch with his ex-wife, and both of his sisters. I was so saddened to hear of his illness. Enough of this "loosing touch" stuff. It was time to reconnect. I found out what room he is in, and we were off for a visit. Needless to say, it was wonderful to see him, and I think he was very pleasantly surprised to see a face from the past. We reminisced, joked, laughed and cried. I will go back to see him again tomorrow. This time we won't loose touch.
While at the V.A. we also went to visit my wonderful friend, Merrill, who is Harley's "Dad." As I've mentioned in the past, Harley is a service dog for a lovely gentleman I met through my Golden Retriever Meetup Group. Merrill is a quadriplegic who has had some tough health issues over the past couple of years, and has needed someone to care for Harley when he's had to go into the hospital for extended stays. That's where I come in.
I met Merrill and Harley in April of 2006. Merrill was very sick at the time and went into the hospital for what turned out to be a 4 month stay. Once he was home, he needed some time to recoup without having to worry about caring for Harley, so all in all, she stayed with us for 6 months on her first visit. When it came time for her to go home, I think we were all a bit worried about how she would adjust back to her "service dog" mode. She surprised us all by being extremely well behaved, getting right back to business, and doing what she needed to so.
Over the last 3 years, we have welcomed Harley into our home many times. Sometimes only for a week or two, and sometimes for months at a time. She is never a problem or pest, and she seems to be able to adjust from "service mode" to "free spirit" and back again with surprising grace. She has been with us for just over 4 weeks so far this time, and I knew Merrill would be missing her. It was time for a visit for her (and us) to see him.
After surprising Bob, and bringing Harley in to say hello, we were off to find Merrill's room. Once we were headed in the direction of the SCI (Spinal Cord Injury) Unit, Harley started to perk up. She is very serious when she has her working vest on. She knows that it's all business when she is "dressed," but I'm pretty sure she knew where we were heading. The closer we got to the Unit, the more her tail was wagging. She'd been there many times before, going to physical therapy with Merrill, accompanying him on his appointments, and visiting him on his previous stays. She knew she was on the way to visit her "Dad."
Once we made sure that Merrill was awake and ready for company, we brought Harley in. It is a huge understatement to say that she was happy to see him. A huge understatement indeed! He called her up, she jumped onto his bed, and planted herself for the entire time we were there. When it came time for us to leave, Harley decided she was staying. She didn't move when we called her to come. Didn't move with the promise of a treat, and didn't even move as we motioned for, and actually walked out the door. She was very comfortable, thank you very much, to be laying on her Dad, snuggling and enjoying his company. It was one of the sweetest things I've ever seen. With a lot of coaxing, we got her to jump down on her own. She was not happy to leave, but I know she'll be thrilled when we go again tomorrow evening for another visit to both Bob and Merrill.
It is awesome to see the connection between people and their animals. The love is absolutely undeniable, and I'm honored to be a witness to it.