We continued to slowly walk around the corridor with Mattie off lead when Jerry (one of the residents who continually propelled himself through the hallway in his wheelchair day and night) stopped in his tracks.
Oh boy, I thought. What if he was frightened of dogs, what if he thought Mattie was a wolf (don’t laugh, it could happen), what if he tried to run her over with his wheelchair, what if he became aggressive; there were so many ‘what if’s’ running through my mind, that I just about missed what happened next…
There was a stare-down, Mattie at Jerry and Jerry at Mattie. I questioned my decision to take her off lead. Mattie took 2 steps forward, and Jerry self-propelled his wheelchair two times. Then they both stopped. I had to remind myself to breathe, when next thing I knew, Mom giggled. I looked down at her and gave her a stern ‘that’s not funny’ look. Oh my, was I now the parent? I looked again and this time Jerry self-propelled his wheelchair at least 3x and Mattie took at least 3 steps if not more, until they were in close proximity to one another. I felt I was in an old cowboy movie and there was about to be a gunfight at the OK Corral.
‘Hello?’ Jerry said to Mattie.
‘Hello’ Mattie said to Jerry. No, she didn’t actually say anything, she’s a dog, remember? But she began to put her head down close to Jerry’s lap, it seemed, almost asking for a pat on the head. He took his left hand and began to pat her nose.
‘Good doggy, you’re such a good doggy’ Jerry said loudly.
‘Want a cookie?’
Oh no, I thought; Goodness knows what he was about to give her. For all I knew, it was chocolate or even worse medication of some sort.
‘Ah, Jerry’ I said. ‘This is Mattie, she’s my dog and I don’t give her treats, besides she doesn’t take treats from strangers. Thanks for offering, though!’
Jerry replied adamantly, ‘Oh, I’ve never heard of a dog not taking a treat. I think you are wrong’.
Did I want to begin an argument with Jerry? No! I decided to ask what ‘cookie’ he wanted give her.
‘This one’ he said as he put his hand in his pocket and lifted out a plain Digestive cookie and held it up in the air.
During Jerry’s and my word exchange and the magical ‘cookie’ demonstration, I noticed Mattie’s nose sniffing the air up and down.
Although I only had Mattie for near 6 months now, it took everything I had to get her to eat an entire meal. She had been a very finicky eater. Was she even going to eat this? I guess the ‘nose’ was far stronger than any fear or apprehension she may have had, because next thing I knew, she put herself immediately in the ‘sit’ position looking right at the cookie in Jerry’s hand.
‘See? She didn’t even need to be told. She sat right away. This is a very smart girl’ Jerry said beaming.
Again, what could I do? If memory serves me right, I shook my head, looked at the three of them, Mom, Jerry and Mattie and threw my hands in the air.
What happened next? Jerry put his hand out holding the Digestive and Mattie took is gingerly and gently out of Jerry’s hand.
I thought I was supposed to be the one teaching Mattie, but as it turned out, she seemed to be the one teaching me.