One of the first things we learned as a Therapy Dog team was that sometimes we need to look after the caregivers as much as we do the patient. One of our most important jobs is to offer stress relief to those who are tirelessly attending to a loved one. This was particularly true with our work in hospice and reinforced in all of our training. Our visit today at Casa de Modesto reminded me of this special duty and that I need to be mindful of the employees and visitors as well as the patients. The staff usually just smile when I'm there with Charlie, but today I had several stop and engage him. This happened on a couple of different occasions and was out of the ordinary. I was a little surprised, but felt good that they were comfortable with us both to spend some time with Charlie.
We also had the opportunity to meet the family of one of Charlie's favorite patients. (She's the one who "accidentally on purpose" spilled Fiddle Faddle on the floor so he could have a treat.) I could see she had company, but I couldn't pass her room without a quick hello. I was welcomed with big smiles and kind words. They had heard all about Charlie and were pleased to meet him.
That's when the magic happened. The son of the patient began to tell me stories of growing up with his mom and the dogs they had when he was younger. It was delightful and just the telling and the hearing of the stories brought sweet memories back to the family. I knew in that moment that our "chance" encounter was no coincidence at all. God's timing is perfect. We were obviously meant for this man, on this day.
We never truly know who we touch when we serve. It is naive to limit the capacity of service to one individual. Since it is the work of God it is as limitless and far reaching as he is. It is such a privilege to participate. We are so blessed by the experience and can't wait for the next opportunity.