Monday, December 12, 2011
Delivering Warmth and Comfort to Veterans
by Cathy Gregory
It has been a wonderful ride living with Christine, our our 8-year-old retired breeder. After giving birth to many Guide Dog pups, some of whom later graduated as Guide Dogs, she is still serving, by visiting veterans in lock down care at the Veterans Administration hospital in Palo Alto, Calif.
On a recent Thursday afternoon, we were doing our normal visit with her good pal Daisy, a 12-year-old (very light) yellow Lab. The staff refer to the two dogs as twins. When Daisy, Christine and I walked the south corridor, we came upon a crowd of around 12 people -- several doctors, staff and family members --surrounding a patient. Their mood seemed resigned, and I wondered if they were perhaps acknowledging the patient's last hours.
The three of us moved on along the corridor to do our visits, and when we came back to this same room, only one staff nurse remained with him. I asked her if we could go in. She said, "Yes," and then mentioned needing to get some morphine to help ease the patient's pain. I asked Christine to jump on the bed and lie next to the man. He was on a breathing tube for oxygen, but was otherwise unencumbered.
Christine settled parallel to his body with her head next to his. Although, according to the nurse, he had not shown any movement for days, he opened his hand to hold Christine's paw and his face immediately relaxed. We watched the interaction of his fingers and her paw. She remained next to him until I called her down, saying it was time to move along.
I had dreams about this guy, and how Christine helped him move to his next phase. The following week, on our visit to the ward, I asked the nurse about the patient. She said he had moved on -- to a geriatric ward. He was still alive!