Hospice had become her home and ours, a temporary dwelling of swiftly moving fears and tears. Moving — away from earth connections — to heavenly realms.
“You’ll see Jesus soon,” I told her on this day. “I know, and I can’t wait!” she did a little wave with her hands and exclaimed with all the joy her weak body could muster.
The phone rang in the room, a friend who had babysat our daughter, offering condolences on the sad news, and offhandedly mentioning they had to give up one of their dogs to the shelter.
“She won’t come out from under the bed anymore and she runs away all the time. She’s too afraid of the other dog and we just can’t keep her.”
I started shaking, thinking absolutely crazy thoughts . . . oh, man, I love that dog! She must be ours!
When I first met her I told my husband that if we ever got a second dog I wanted one just like her. Furry, cuddly, and oh, so cute. She was the only dog other than Shadow, the one we already had, that I ever fell immediately in love with . . . and now she was abandoned to who knew what future.
Imagine trying to convince your husband that you need to go to the shelter to meet a dog to adopt when his mother has only days to live. As crazy as he thought I was, he agreed . . . “just to see.”
That’s all it took, and for the next five days she happily went everywhere with us, including spending whole days in the Hospice unit. Grammy even gave her approval.
Suddenly gray days full of mourning had glimpses of joy. Bailey needed walks, to play fetch with toys, and to be petted . . . petted a LOT.
We started calling her our “therapy dog.” On the night of Grammy’s passing, she was there, with us, curled up next to my daughter on a cot in the Hospice room.
She was there for us. To hug. To cry tears into her fur. To calm and comfort us while our loss was still too raw to be calmed and comforted by others.
It’s difficult to imagine how we would have made it through that grief and the days of grief to come without her. Or the twelve years we’ve shared with her since.
She was, and still is, our therapy dog.
We hugged and petted her a little more over the last week, finding comfort for our unspoken grief in the softness of her fur and her face of unconditional love.
It’s what dogs can do for us in such times.
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