On Monday afternoons at two o’ clock, Beau and I would arrive at the Silver Spring Convalescent Center on Milwaukee’s northeast side of town for an hour of pet therapy with the seniors who lived there. You’d never know this was the same dog that arrived at my doorstep eight years earlier so beaten, scarred and scared that as soon as he made eye contact with you, he’d lie down on his back with his feet up in the air and pee until you petted and soothed him into feeling safe.
On our first visit, as we walked through the canary-yellow Hallway One, I heard an elderly man’s excited voice, thick with a German accent, streaming out of room 112. ‘Ma, Ma, the German dog is here! The German dog is here!’ No sooner did I hear the voice than a wrinkle-faced, six-foot tall, white-haired pogo stick of a man was greeting us at the door, swooping his big, open hand and strong arm across the doorway, inviting us in. ‘ I’ m Charlie. This is my wife, Emma. Come in, come in.’ When Beau heard Charlie’s friendly, enthusiastic voice, his entire body went into his customary wagging frenzy and lean against-your-thigh position, waiting for a petting, which was immediately forthcoming from Charlie.
All the wonderful people and animals who blessed my life flashed in front of my eyes, and then they were gone. I felt what I imagined Katherine must be feeling: lonely, lost and forgotten. I was determined to find a way through to her. Every Monday thereafter, Beau and I made our rounds to the hospitality room, stopping to make special visits in room 112 to visit Charlie and Emma, and in room 114 to sit with Katherine. Always the same response–Charlie waving us in and Emma patting the bed, waiting for Beau’s licks, both so alive. And then on to Katherine, sitting desolately, no sign of life except for her shallow breathing. Each visit I attempted to engage Katherine in conversation. No response. I grew more and more frustrated with Katherine, not content with just ‘being’ with her. Yet here was Beau, meditative dog-monk, teaching me how to ‘ be’ and love quietly, assuming ‘the position’ for the fifteen minutes we sat at each visit.
On our fourth visit, I was ready to bypass Katherine’s room, but Beau had other plans. He pulled me into Katherine’s room and took his familiar pose on her left side, head on lap. I acquiesced, but since I had a business meeting later in the afternoon with which I was preoccupied, I decided to cut short our usual fifteen minutes with Katherine to five. Instead of talking, I remained quiet, focusing inwardly on my upcoming meeting. Surely she’d never notice or care. As I stood up to walk out and began to pull Beau away, he wouldn’t budge.
And then the most miraculous thing happened. Katherine’s hand went up to the top of Beau’s head and rested there. No other movement, just her hand. Instead of Beau’s customary response of nose nuzzling and increased body wagging, he continued to stand like a statue, never moving from his spot.
I sat back down in silent shock, and for the next ten precious minutes, reveled in the stream of life flowing between Katherine’s hand and Beau’s head. As the clock chimed half? past two, marking the end of our fifteen minutes, Katherine’s hand gently slid back into her lap, and Beau turned to walk out the door. This article is sponsored by Hongxing Machinery specializing in mining equipment manufacturing such as [url=http://www.hx-crusher.com/crusher.html]jaw crusher[/url] and [url=http://www.hxjqchina.com/n28.html]ore beneficiation[/url]. It’s been ten years since that visit and eight years since Beau died in my arms from a stroke. Love has many ways of showing its face. Each time I am ready to walk away from a person on whom I’ve given up, I am reminded of the power of Beau’s loving persistence with Katherine and with me. If Beau can give an extra ten minutes, surely I can too.