Puppy’s Magical Visit to a Memory Care Facility
The Magical Visit of a Puppy to a Memory Care Facility
I’d always heard that pets can often reach people with Alzheimer’s on a level that people cannot, but I was unprepared for the profound reaction my little puppy elicited during a recent visit to Ruth, a wonderful dog lover.
“Oh, my sakes,” Ruth said when I arrived with my tiny Shih Tzu puppy, Christina. Isn’t she sweet? She’s so small. “Look at that adorable little face!”
Ruth laughed when she saw Christina and had the biggest smile I’d seen on her face in the year I’d been visiting her.
Christina, who was ten weeks old and weighed only three pounds, hadn’t yet had her first haircut and was a tangle of fuzz. Her eyes were hidden beneath a thick tuft of fur, and her tail never stopped wagging.
Christina jumped up on Ruth’s legs as soon as she saw her and begged to be petted.
Ruth leaned down and vigorously petted Christina.
“What’s her name?” she inquired, laughing once more.
“Christina,” I introduced myself.
“Christina. Oh, please! What a lovely name for this adorable little puppy.”
“You are welcome to hold her.”
“Are you sure?” She inquired. “Do you mean you’d let me actually hold her?”
“Sure. “Call her over and pick her up.”
“Okay. “What’s your name?”
“Christina,” I repeated patiently.
“Christina, come here,” Ruth said as she sat down.
Christina jumped up and ran over to Ruth, who scooped her up and placed her on her lap. Ruth’s eyes twinkled, and she shone brightly.
She ruffled Christina’s fur and patted her firmly on the back. Christina planted several wet puppy kisses on Ruth’s face, as if as a reward. The last one landed right in her mouth.
I was mortified and yelled, perhaps a little too loudly, “Christina, stop it!”
Ruth, on the other hand, simply laughed and said, “Aww. She isn’t causing any harm.”
“Thanks for the picture of her you gave me last time,” she said.
She pointed to a wallet-size photo of Christina on her bureau, next to a photo of Annie, Ruth’s Labrador who now lives with Ruth’s son.
Strangely, Ruth had forgotten I’d brought Christina on a previous visit. Another strange thing was that I had no recollection of giving her the photo. I guess we remembered most things between the two of us!
“I appreciate you bringing her. “I adore her!”
After that, we played a game with Christina. Ruth sat in the worn easy chair at one end of her room, and I stood at the other, just outside the door.
“Christina,” Ruth said, clapping her hands. Christina dashed toward her before diving-bombing her feet like Babe Ruth sliding into home plate head first.
Ruth flung both arms straight up in the air and exclaimed, “Whee!” as soon as Christina arrived.
When I called Christina, she reacted like a mighty steer in a stampede.
We were both doubled over with laughter.
We called Christina back and forth for about five minutes. Christina dive-bombed Ruth’s feet each time, and Ruth threw her arms up and exclaimed, “Whee!”
Ruth and I would have never gotten tired of it, but Christina was exhausted and fell asleep right between us. Then she leaned her chin against the carpet and looked up at Ruth, as if to say, “I love you!”
Christina seemed to want to be petted again, but she was too tired to jump up and beg us.
“Thank you again for bringing her,” Ruth said a second time.
“Ruth, could I get her some water?” Christina was out of breath and her little pink tongue was hanging out, so I asked.
“Of course,” she replied, and I went to her sink to get a plastic cup of water.
Christina was ready to frolic again after drinking copiously, so we resumed the game.
Given Ruth’s hazy memory, I figured I could bring Christina on a regular basis and it would be like the first time. That would be an incredible gift. So much fun for Ruth and so simple for me.
“I’m sorry, but I have to leave now,” I finally said, reluctantly.
“Oh,” she said, extending her lower lip and looking down. “Can you please stay a little longer?”
“I wish I could,” I admitted wistfully. “I’m sorry to have to leave, but I’ll see you next Thursday.”
I was as disappointed as Ruth to have to leave. I could have easily stayed another hour, sending Christina back and forth, but I had three ‘Ladies’ on my list to see, and I needed to get to the other two.
As Ruth led me to Christina’s door, I wondered if Christina would sleep well that night after such a strenuous workout. Ruth, I assumed, would sleep well as well. And I would as well.
Ruth and I hugged as usual.
“I really appreciate you bringing her,” Ruth said. “How do I address her?”
“Christina,” I said once more.
“This is my best day since I’ve lived here!” she exclaimed.