It had to be you

by Bill Hamelau, HPCCR Pet Therapy Volunteer

rowdy2Several days ago Rowdy and I made a pet therapy visit to one of our assigned patients in the memory loss unit of a local assisted living facility.  After a really nice visit with our patient, we approached other residents in the sitting area who we’ve gotten to know and who love Rowdy.  Jane and Alice (not their real names) were sitting side by side on a small couch as they usually are.  These are two proper little ladies in their 80’s, each with a twinkle in her eye.

I got down on one knee if front of them and carefully held Rowdy so they could both pet him.  As they do each time, they tell me about dogs they had growing up and how handsome Rowdy is.  Jane always looks at Rowdy and says “You’re handsome and you know it.”  Without fail, Alice always says “My father loved dogs.”

During our visit they always ask several times “How old is Rowdy?” and “What’s his name?”  Thus I am reminded why they are under memory loss care.  Even after the fourth time they ask, I always respond like it was a brand new question.  They could ask a hundred times and I would be pleased to answer.

While kneeling in front of them with Rowdy, a person on TV started singing “It Had To Be You”, a classic from the 1940’s.  Without prompting, Jane and Alice started singing along in soft delicate voices.  Then I was caught by surprise.  When Alice was singing the phrase, “It Had To Be You” she pointed at Rowdy on the “You.”  With that as a sort of cue, they both began actually singing to Rowdy.  The pure sweetness and spontaneity of this moment were, at once, overwhelmingly joyous and poignant.  Alice and Jane will never know how full my heart was when Rowdy and I left that day… but I always will.

Explore posts in the same categories: awareness, caregiving, end of life, hospice, Hospice Alternative Residence Team, long-term care, pet therapy, volunteering

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5 Comments on “It had to be you”

  1. Barrie Says:

    What a lovely story! I have the pleasure of knowing Rowdy and Bill personally and know that they are the kindest and most giving of God’s creatures. Keep up the good work!

  2. Alice Allen Says:

    Bill, that is beautiful! Thanks for sharing.
    I love the picture of Rowdy…best one I have seen of his eyes!.

  3. Dave Says:

    It’s always so beautiful to see the results of a person taking the time to be genuinely interested in another!

  4. Georgia Says:

    Lovely story, Bill, thank you for sharing!


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