We were at the end of our stroll through the hallways. Mattie had amazed me, and so it seemed also the residents who lived here. We passed by the nursing station, had a small chat with the Nurse, and then continued back to Mom’s room.
I spoke to Mom about the house and all its issues as we neared her room at the end of the corridor. I looked back to see Mattie standing outside someone’s room. I then remembered that the individual in the room was a lovely gentleman in his early 40’s who was suffering from the late stages of MS. He never ventured out of his room, although he would be in his wheelchair for a few hours a day. I had to say I felt sorry for him. The programs held in the facility catered more to residents over the age of 65, and not a 40 something-year-old. He never seemed to participate in any activities unless it was a one to one visit in his room. He was able to run his electric wheelchair by using his right index finger, which was one of the few muscles he could still use. He did not or could not speak. I had to admit I did not know much about him. But there was Mattie standing outside his door.
‘Mattie, come!’ I quietly said.
She turned her head to look at me, and then turned back to look inside the room.
Oh no, I thought, don’t tell me she is going to walk into his room.
‘Mattie’, I whispered emphatically, ‘come’.
Yeah, that didn’t seem to work she kept walking slowly.
I didn’t want to run down the corridor to try to catch her for fear she would become spooked. I still had Mom with me, so thought I would quickly wheel Mom into her room, tell her I’d be right back, and walk quickly, grab Mattie and put her back on the leash. That sounded like a plan, so off I went to put Mom in her room.
I came back out into the hallway and didn’t see Mattie.
I quickly walked down the hallway and heard a woman’s voice,
‘Honey, isn’t he beautiful?’
Just as I had thought, Mattie had nonchalantly walked into the Resident’s room.
I slowly stepped into the doorway to see Mattie walking around the room heading over to the bed where a gentleman was laying down, but awake.
‘I’m so sorry’ I said to the woman visiting. ‘This is Mattie, it’s her first time here and I thought she would follow me without the leash on’.
I reached over to Mattie to grab her collar.
Right at that moment, the woman said, ‘Oh no, it’s fine, my husband loved dogs. That’s a picture on the nightstand of his favourite dog that passed away a few years ago.’
‘Oh, I’m so sorry’, I said looking at a beautiful photo of this gentleman’s dog. ‘He was beautiful’.
‘Yes he was, he was such a good dog. Look! My husband is smiling’.
I have to be honest; I couldn’t tell he was smiling. He didn’t seem to have much muscle control left as his disease had taken that away.
‘Your dog can visit anytime’, the woman said.
‘Oh, okay, thanks’ I said feeling relieved. ‘Although I will leave you both to visit and take Mattie back down the hallway to my Mom’s now’.
‘Okay, have a great visit with your Mom’ the woman said smiling.
‘Thanks I will’ I said.
‘And remember your dog can come back to visit anytime, I haven’t seen my husband smile like that in a very long time’ she said with tears in her eyes.
I nodded, bent down and gingerly led Mattie out of the room.
Future visits with Mattie would prove she had a special connection with this gentleman. When I arrived, I would always take her off lead near his room where she would slowly walk in, nudge his hand with her nose, and then he would take his one finger that had movement and try to pet her. The entire routine would be played out again upon leaving the facility.
To think the first couple of months I had contemplated taking her back to the breeders. This dog had so much compassion that I thought, if I could bottle it, our world would be a much better place.