Mom was sitting in her wheelchair in front of her TV when Mattie decided to head right over to her. Mom laughed and slowly took her hand and put it on Mattie’s head. I bent over to give Mom a kiss on her cheek while taking off Mattie’s leash.
‘Mom this is Mattie, our new dog, Mattie this is your grandmother’ I said smiling.
Mattie nuzzled Mom’s chair while I took Mom’s hand again to lay it on Mattie’s head.
‘She’s beautiful’ Mom said with watery eyes.
What? I thought to myself. Mom hadn’t spoken in years. Other than singing along with her favorite songs, there was usually just jibber jabber. Sure, she would make sounds, but no recognizable words ever came out of her mouth. Wow, and now she said two words that made sense and were appropriate for the moment.
I sat on the edge of Mom’s bed silently and watched the interaction between the two.
There was Mattie who would continually stretch her neck so that Mom could touch her, and Mom who smiled from ear to ear. It took everything I had not to break down and cry. It wasn’t a sad feeling, but more of a touching and elated moment. Something about this dog brought Mom back, if only for an instant.
I decided I would take Mom around the floor for a stroll. I put the leash back on (even though Mattie had nowhere to run), and positioned myself at the back of Mom’s wheelchair to push her around with Mattie at my left side.
I opened the door and we exited Mom’s room, turning left.
I walked slowly and spoke to Mom about the weather, and was about to say ‘Hi’ to one of the other residents when they noticed Mattie first.
‘Oh my’ Margaret said while sitting in her wheelchair, in her Scottish brogue.
‘That can’t be? Is that a Co-llie? She said in an open syllable where the ‘o’ came out sounding like the ‘o’ in the word ‘holy’.
‘Ah yes it is, she is a blue-merle’ I said smiling.
And just like that Mattie pulled me over to Margaret.
‘Oh we used to have many when I was a little girl’ Margaret commented. ‘I loved them, ya know, you don’t see many of them around anymore’. I’ve never seen one quite like this one though. She is a beaut, what’s her name?’
I pushed Mom closer to Margaret so that it was easier to handle the wheelchair and a leash on Mattie.
‘Thank you; and her name is Mattie’ I said as I tried to untangle the leash around 2 wheelchairs.
‘Oh take her off that thing’ Margaret said pointing to the leash.
‘She’ll be fine. Those are good dogs’ she said smiling.
I was hesitant to take her off the leash; I wasn’t sure how the residents, home or staff would react. Okay, I admit that maybe it was because I was fearful that something would happen. I had Mattie for all of 6 months now and wasn’t sure I could trust her. I didn’t want to run down the corridors after her if she were to become spooked.
‘Come on, take her off it’, Margaret said in a Scottish stern voice.
You have to understand that all my life I was taught to respect and listen to my elders, so that’s exactly what I did. I bent down and released the ‘hound’.
All the while, Mom giggled. Somehow she thought this was amusing. I, needless to say, was a bit nervous.
‘Now see, I told you, she’s fine’ Margaret said with confidence.
‘Yes, I guess you were right’ I remarked smirking.
Next thing I knew, Mattie was standing in front of Margaret while she reached forward to pet her.
‘Oh you’re a good girl, so pretty. I told ya Mom here, you’d be fine’ she said looking down at Mattie.
I couldn’t help but shake my head. I was truly amazed. Maybe all my misgivings about this dog were wrong. Maybe, she could bring some smiles, happiness, and love to everyone here, including my Mom.