In July our family acquired a new puppy named Archie. He is a wonderful pile of floppy black fluff and we all adore him.
Most mornings I bring Archie into Matthew’s room during morning care. At first it was primarily to keep an eye on him while we established housetraining. However another priority for any dog in our home is to socialize the puppy to Matthew’s morning routine and care. The last thing our household needs is a dog who becomes frightened, or worse aggressive, around medical equipment. The best way to ensure this doesn’t happened is to make sure your puppy is exposed to a range of experiences, people, and “things” at a very young age so they learn not to be afraid. Mornings are when Matthew’s care is most intense and virtually all equipment is used – slings, wheelchair, IV pole, feeding pump, syringes – so it was an excellent time to have Archie nearby being exposed to the equipment.
Over the weeks Archie has been with our family I have developed a routine of having Archie visit with Matthew while I do the prep work for Matthew’s care. Archie licks Matthew’s ears and generally visits while I draw up meds, prime the feeding tube, and gather all the supplies I will need to get the kid going. Once I actually need to step in to provide care I usually plop Archie on the floor nearby and get to work. Usually Archie curls up under the bed or on the nearby Lay-Z-Boy we have for our night staff. That is, until today.
This morning once I was ready to get to work I plunked Archie on the floor and started puttering around Matthew. Archie immediately took five paces back from the bed and took a flying leap of black fluff, floppy ears, and wagging tongue, and landed squarely on the waist height bed. It was an impressive leap. He then proceeded to cuddle up to Matthew making it abundantly clear that it was my job to simply work around him.
Mornings are an intense time of care. There is a lot to accomplish in a fairly short period of time. I need to get Matthew up, changed, washed and dressed, while also organizing his meds and feeding tube. We have to squeeze in a masking of inhaled meds and then clean his mouth and teeth before we sprint out the door to his day program. The last thing I need is a puppy making every step more complicated.
And yet I left Archie where he was. Seeing Archie and Matthew so clearly contented was, for me, a beautiful moment in an otherwise labour intensive stretch of the mundane. For it was a moment, albeit brief, of a dog providing intimate care of the soul, not just for Matthew but for me as well. I call it doggy spiritual care, and today, it made me smile.