At the risk of changing the direction of this blog into a soap opera I do think I owe it to my readers an explanation for my absence. But I have a happy note here that is entirely Rottweiler related.
Early in July, following a seizure and three-day stay in the hospital, my dear wife Jacqueline was admitted into Hospice and we elected to keep her at home with some assistance of a hospice group here in Kentucky. About the same time I was undergoing a series of medical tests in the hospital as an outpatient and the Cardiologist had recommended an Angiogram and a Stent to improve my blood flow. Hospice of the Bluegrass, the group helping me care for my wife stepped in and arranged to place Jacqueline in a nursing home for 5 days to give me some time to rest from the surgery. The stent procedure on Wednesday, August 10th only required a single night in the hospital. Jacqueline was picked up by ambulance the day before and taken to the nursing home as I had to be in hospital before 7 AM the next day. I was very much concerned about the Rottweilers so I decided to keep them at home in a familiar environment so I hired a dog-sitter to come in and take care of them. This is the story of what transpired after that.
Thursday, August 11th.
When I came home this afternoon it felt good to be home again and surrounded by my best friends again. They all greeted me when I walked in the house and then they went back to taking naps as if nothing different had happened. I'm sure they must have missed me but the welcome home party only lasted a few minutes. I’m guessing that is a good sign they were well cared for while I was away.
My appetite needed some adjustment after getting back home since I had my last meal at 4 PM on Tuesday. This morning, in the hospital I ate my first meal in over 36 hours and I was quite famished. I ordered scrambled eggs and pancakes and sausage and I was so full that I had a light lunch very late at home and didn’t eat dinner until 10 PM. It was still good to be surrounded by my food friends again starring at me while I ate. And I am very happy to see that nothing bad happened to old man Axl while I was away. Tonight he still went to sleep on the floor in his mom’s bedroom and I have reminded him often she will be coming home Sunday afternoon.
The doctor prescribed some new medicine for me to prevent my body from rejecting the implanted stent in my heart. I will be taking this for a whole year. This is some new drug called Brilinta and rather expensive, too. Well, for years I got away with just taking some basic drugs for my cholesterol and then everything changed this year. First came the Flowmax for my prostate, then came the Midodrine for my low blood pressure, then my newest doctor, the Cardiologist, added three more drugs. Now I need a larger daily pill reminder to store the pills in. In addition to all that, when I hobbled into the County Clerk’s office a few weeks ago with my cane to renew the handicapped tag that I’ve used for years for Jacqueline, the clerk asked me if I wanted a tag for myself. Good thing, she said, as it not legal for me to use Jacqueline’s handicapped tag when she wasn’t with me in the car. So now, in spite of some people saying I don’t look as old as I am, I am now a full-fledged old coot with a cane and a handicapped placard.
Friday, August 12th.
Well, its been a very busy week. this afternoon I took Ruffin and we drove to the nursing home to visit Jacqueline. Hospice of the Bluegrass had a contract with several area nursing homes and because of limited available beds we were most fortunate they got to put her in Madonna Manor which at first sight looked to me like a 5-star hotel. I took Ruff with me because he is the easiest to walk on a leash and I wanted him to see that his Mom was OK. I don’t know how much they communicate with each other but I was hoping he would let Axl and Bess know that he saw her again.
I have mentioned in the past how Ruff seems to become the center of attention whenever we walk into a store. Just realize those stores are almost all pet stores that have other dogs as well. So imagine what he was like walking into a place where he had never been before and he was the only dog there. At 130 lbs, he does make an impressive presence, and everyone turned and looked at him. From the receptionist at the front door to the staff walking the hallways, every one gave Ruff a smile and some even petted him on his head. And when we arrived at the common area where there was about 10 older people in wheelchairs and half as many staff, he made quite an entrance. First thing we spotted his Mom on the far side of the room. We had arrived just as they were beginning to serve lunch so they moved Jacqueline to a table by herself away from the others so we could sit together. All the other elderly people were feeding themselves and talking to each other but Jacqueline was the only person who was not able to do this so I offered to feed her myself and because it takes some time they welcomed my help. Ruff laid on the floor next to her wheelchair the whole time and looked around and watched everyone in the room. And I noticed the frequent stares he was getting as everyone was looking over at him. And there were smiles on almost everyone’s faces. It was as if he lit up the room. Some of the staff came over and made comments about how big and handsome he was and he got lots of pats on his head but the best part was how Ruff picked up on the disabilities of the patients. After seeing me move Jacqueline in her wheelchair from room to room at home, when he saw all those other people in wheelchairs it was like something must have clicked in his head. Every time someone in a wheelchair came near him he went over and put his head on the armrest of their chair and they touched his huge head and smiled.
Sunday, August 14th.
On Saturday I went to see Jacqueline alone because I had to stop in a store on the way home but on Sunday, when she came home I took Ruff back with me and that was his best day ever. Word of his Friday visit got around and the new staff on Sunday acted like he was a returning celebrity. When we got there Jacqueline wasn’t in her room or in the common area. I asked one of the staff and then said she had been taken to the chapel for Sunday Mass. This nursing home, Madonna Manor in Villa Hills, Kentucky was a religious facility. So one of the staff took us down a long hallway to another section of the nursing home to look for her. We got there just as the Mass ended and while we sat on a chair in the hallway waiting there was a parade of almost a hundred people pass us by and at least a third of them were in wheelchairs. I can tell you that was the slowest moving parade ever because almost everyone had to stop and say something nice about Ruff. When Ruff is around people he seems to smile and have a happy look on his face and that is so captivating. I always tell people that Ruff is a people person and just loves to meet people. I began to think how much joy a therapy dog gives to handicapped people doing just the same thing.
We must have missed Jacqueline or one of the staff brought her back to the common area a different way. When Ruff and I came back looking for her they were getting ready to serve lunch so we sat down at the table with her but this time we were not moved to a table by ourselves. Four other people in wheelchairs were having lunch with us at the long table. Ruff now had the presence of food to keep his interest so I had to explain in jest that he was just a big moocher but at least he wasn't begging for handouts. This time no one complained at his being there with the others. Then the ambulance people arrived and loaded Jacqueline on to a gurney for the ride back home.
When the ambulance pulled into my driveway I went into the house to put Bess out back so she wouldn’t get in the way. When I opened the door she darted out and ran to see who had come to visit. The ambulance people rolled Jacqueline inside the house and as soon as Axl spotted his Mom he got so excited he nervously threw up on the floor. Shortly after that Jacqueline was back in her green recliner in the family room and she was surrounded by her three best friends. They took up their positions on the couch and chair and Axl on the floor and it was back to normal once again.
And, as they say, life goes on.