Thursday, September 30, 2010

Oh, Henry


At last, here is a portion of Henry, the hospital dog.

I hope that his magnificence comes through - or that your facile imaginations will assist you in knowing what a fine fellow he is.

With his mom, they make hospital rounds, assigned, as I understand, to a particular unit on each of their visit days. What they do is stop and connect with as many people as they can, not only the patients. They listen to people as they wait to be seen and, likely, admitted. They sit with families of patients in surgery. Henry also poses for photos with doctors and staff, for many of whom his loving presence may be the brightest moment in their work day; hospitals are not always sources of good news. They meet patients in the halls as they exercise and, at least once, have met a patient again upon his discharge, a man who spoke emphatically about his earlier encounter and how he would never forget it. To all these moments of happenstance, Henry brings his gift of mystical empathy and his trick, the extending for a shake of one paw, then the other. Repeat as needed.

Henry was rescued from what his mom calls "benign neglect," not outright abuse but a chain of events that wore him out, wearied his spirit, yet somehow did not diminish his ability to give from a reservoir that had become periously low. He is part of a lively, fanciful home where his unknown backstory becomes more elaborate and textured with each telling.

I will guess that it might be likely your local hospital has an animal visitation program. It would be worth a call to find out. If you are the parent of a zen-calm, people-loving pet - and inclined to enjoy the company of people who may have something to get off their chests - the two, or more, of you could become bringers of restoration. We can never have too many of those.

14 comments:

Robert the Skeptic said...

Many of our nursing homes here have pets, dogs and cats. The residents find that they relieve a lot of stress.

There is one story about a cat who sleeps on the beds of dying patients. He seems to know and stays with them on the bed until they expire. Touching.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Robert - I believe we had that story on news here. They are remarkably intuitive creatures and sources of unconditional comfort and love. Being next to Henry several hours a day could really work miracles.

Kass said...

My granddog, Lola is a constant source of delight and comfort to me and my mom. I've blogged about her before, but it's always worth reinforcing. Henry is a magnificent dog.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - He is indeed. I am so glad to know that you and your mother have Lola. Had I been in another mind set, I'd have brought my mother's dog to visit her 10 times more often than I did, 20 times. How different it would all be if we found wisdom before we knew we were lacking it.

Laoch of Chicago said...

One loves Henry the dog ...

Artist and Geek said...

In a moment of boredom and delight I once taught my cat the same "trick" to prove that cats can be trained. He indulged me.

There is something about rescues, the palpable gratitude, the knowledge that they will never suffer again. One can learn from their forgiving natures.

I loathe nursing homes that don't allow seniors to bring their companions with them.

Marylinn, but you did bring him/her

Marylinn Kelly said...

Laoch - Yes, thank you. One does love Henry the dog. After the post was up, his mom e-mailed to say she was going to read it to him and was sure he would understand. While here, he enjoyed bits of very ripe banana as a snack.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Artist and Geek - Either you are a master cat whisperer or that was some indulgent cat. Probably a lot of both. I would love to meet a paw-shaking cat.

How very true, what we could learn from the complete lack of rancor or resentment that pets display. A forgiving, accepting nature (although I think I've known of cats who bore grudges) and gratitude for what is good.

Regret over what one might have done better as an adult child creeps in from time to time. Her dog, named Heidi at the time we adopted her, had been acquired for my son. Our combined asthma made us unable to keep her in our home so she became my mother's live-in companion in her apartment attached to our house. Heidi had been advertised as an airedale...partly true...also partly, it appeared, German shepherd. She was being put up for adoption for, um, bad habits which never were reversed. My mother could sit with her hand on Heidi's head for hours as they watched tv. Allowed to sleep on the bed, Heidi was always the one whose head was on the pillow in the morning. Her habitual theft of the breakfast English muffins seemed to be a source of pride for my mother, as though it was a clever trick she'd taught her.

Seeing her walk by with whatever food you had prepared in her mouth was...Tuesday. She escaped a couple times for the nearby park, across a very busy street, where we found her (a) by the hot dog booth at the carnival and (b) as the uninvited guest at a family picnic.

She returned to us when my mother moved to a retirement/nursing home but I know she missed being the spoiled darling and a nice bed in the garage was no match for her previous accommodations.

Lisa Hoffman said...

The Healing Power of Animals has finally been documented by the uber-skeptics. It's real, concrete and tangible. I love the stories of these magnificent beasts, their generous and lucky "parents" and the compassionate places that smartly "allow" their presence.
Thank you for introducing us to Henry and his loving and giving Mom.
I believe...somebody say: "A-men!"

Marylinn Kelly said...

Lisa - Hard to imagine that anyone could doubt the healing ability of animals, but then...look around at all that is proven and true which is belittled and dismissed. You would love Henry in person, just want to sit and spend the day with him...he might doze off after too long an interval. There really are some things which we simply know. Amen. xo

Artist and Geek said...

Marylinn
There were bribes involved and some whispering.

And why not be proud of a clever furry child? Some are special indeed, Heidi and Henry both.

Regrets and should haves, the curse of human memory. Think of the times you brought Heidi, rather than the times you didn't.(I know, easier said than done).

If I couldn't access or make my own food, I do wonder what strange places I would show up at.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Artist and Geek - Well, you have boiled it down the marrow - "If I couldn't access or make my own food..." - and with that, we all see ourselves following gourmet taco trucks (well, that could be anyway), sniffing out picnics or the hot-dog-on-a-stick emporia, begging, catching frisbees or catnip mice and behaving shamelessly. No, we never blamed Heidi for her uninvited guest shenanigans; that hot dog fragrance DID drift over our house. We do what we must. Thanks.

Sherry O'Keefe said...

my father turns 80 next year and is almost the last of his large family. various relatives who hadn't seen him for a few years were startled by how much younger he looked than he had before. what gives?

a dog named jett and another one named roadey. my parents accidentally became caretakers of my brother's dogs during a period of time he was gone too much to take care of them. my parents hadn't had dogs before (oh the mess, oh the shedding, oh the yard-cleanup). it didn't take long for jett and roadey to reach deep into my parents' spirits.

my folks are 75 and 79, but look ten years younger. life is good again for them.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Sherry - It is easy to picture Jeff and Roadey bringing with them sips from the fountain of youth. After just a few hours with Henry, the world seemed different. What a beautiful and unexpected gift for your parents. Thank you for sharing their story.