We had survived our first winter in the country and in our house, which was beginning to feel more like a home with Matinee.
And as my Baba used to say ‘the older you get the faster time flies’! Wow, it’s not only true, but also bittersweet in a way.
We had Mattie now for over 6 months; she was close to completing the 8-week obedience class with Mark in the leadership role rather then me. It’s true, that I did attend a few of the classes, but we always had an issue with the ‘stay’ command. It seemed she didn’t want to be apart from me and would always get up and follow when I turned around and walked away. In my opinion, that wasn’t so bad. Being attached at the hip though was a little awkward at times, but I took it all in stride as we had bonded more than I ever could have imagined. Mark on the other hand, had no issue with the stay command; she would ‘stay’ as long, if not longer than normal, as she still was uneasy around men.
The growing and adjustment pains were almost over. I knew it was time to take Mattie to visit Mom in the long-term care facility. I had hoped everything would go well, but there was always the issue, or quirk if you like, that Mattie had with floors, AND we had to ride an elevator to the second floor, to which, I wasn’t sure she would co-operate. But, I would never know if I didn’t try, so off in the car we drove to Woodlawn Acres*.
We arrived around 1:30 p.m.; I parked the car, exited, and went to the rear to open the hatchback. Mattie waited as I clipped the leash on and she leapt out. This would be the test, the test for Mattie, for Mom, and for me. I had no idea what to expect. I was nervous, but tried not to appear anxious as we walked to the front door, as Mattie glanced at me for some sort of reassurance.
I bent down gave her a hug and said ‘Let’s do this’!
We walked through the sliding doors, I keyed in the security code, and then the second set of sliding glass doors opened. Mattie took the lead this time. We were in the atrium when a Resident in a wheelchair noticed Mattie and gushed.
‘Oh my, is that a Collie?’ She said with a huge smile on her face.
‘Yes, it’s a blue merle rough collie’ I said as I walked over to her.
‘Oh I used to have one when I was a little girl, can I pet her?’ she asked excitedly.
‘Of course’ I said as I tugged on the leash to lead Mattie over to her.
Mattie just stood there in front of the resident that seemed to be re-living her childhood, as she told me about the farm she had grown up on.
The resident gingerly put her hand on Mattie’s back and gently caressed her. Mattie didn’t seem to mind the attention. Maybe she sensed this woman’s love of the breed, maybe she felt no threat, and maybe this is what she was meant to do for the residents, Mom, and me.
We ended our conversation and walked over to the elevator. Mattie just stood there waiting alongside me. The doors opened and we both walked in. Okay, that was easier than I had anticipated, I thought. We arrived at the 2nd floor and exited.
The 2nd floor was mostly made up of ‘complex care’ Residents. The 40 or some residents on the floor were in wheelchairs, and either suffered from the later stages of Dementia, Stroke, or MS.
‘Hey Paula, how are you? And who is your friend? Nurse Dan asked while bending down to pet Mattie.
‘Hi Dan, doing okay, this is Mattie, we’ve had her for about 6 months now and thought I would take her to visit Mom’ I said.
‘She’s beautiful, an Australian shepherd? He asked.
‘Nope, she’s a rough collie and her colouring is called blue merle, but yeah your right, same colouring comes in Aussie’s,’ I said.
‘She’s beautiful’! He said as he kept petting her, in fact, it seemed like he couldn’t keep his eyes and hands off her.
Hmmm, I thought, if she’s okay with a man petting her, maybe she will be fine with Mom.
‘Well I better let you go see your Mom; she’s in her room, see you later beautiful’; he said looking at Mattie as he stood up.
Mattie and I walked down the hallway to Mom’s room. I slowly opened the door to her room and Mattie entered ahead of me without any coaxing.
What was it with this dog? She was skittish at the best of times, yet she seemed right at home here. Was it because these people were not a threat? Did she feel these people were different? Did she feel my relaxation with all the residents and think everything was ok? Was this what she was meant to do in her life? Or was I, once again, just overthinking things?