(Wo)man’s best friend

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Electronic Communications Manager

Nola, right after she plopped down beside Allison's brick

Nola, right after she plopped down beside Allison’s brick

It’s been said that the dog is man’s best friend.  Well, apparently a dog can be a woman’s best friend too.  And I’ve got the story to prove it. 

But first I have to tell you about Allison.  Allison was a patient under our care who spent her last days at Levine & Dickson Hospice House –  Huntersville.  She was relatively young (only 50) and single, but had hundreds of close friends spread throughout the country.  She was one of those people who just oozed light and life.  She relished the outdoors, spending most of her free time hiking, camping, skiing, mountain biking, or sailing.  Allison also had an adventurous spirit and loved to travel (ergo those close friends around the country).  What’s more, she was kind-hearted and generous, exuding a positive attitude that couldn’t be dampened — even by cancer.

And because she had such a generous and nurturing soul (as well as that adventurous spirit), she ended up traveling to New Orleans from Charlotte right after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Just so she could somehow help.  See, Allison also happened to be a general contractor, a career she passionately pursued after spending many years behind a desk in various corporate roles.  After getting her contractor’s license, she built her own home repair and remodeling business here in Charlotte. 

But when she saw the overwhelming devastation in New Orleans, Allison felt compelled to act.  She knew her skills could change the circumstances of many residents whose homes were destroyed.  So Allison and her generous spirit took off to New Orleans to find a way to help.

Now, the story was already good, but this is where it gets great.  So Allison was in New Orleans, going street by street, making repairs, sleeping on floors, literally improving lives.  She was there for months.  And then one day, she came upon a stray dog.  Allison The Kind Hearted, of course, fed the dog — a sweet little female yellow lab.  The dog started following her from house to house, street to street.  Eventually, it became obvious that this dog was coming home to Charlotte with her.  Allison named her Nola after the popular acronym for that fated city.  (NO for New Orleans and LA for the state.)

Nola lived happily with Allison until Allison passed away at Levine & Dickson Hospice House – Huntersville this past January. 

After her passing, Allison’s family decided to purchase a memorial brick to be embedded in the labyrinth at LDHH-H.  The group of friends and family that gathered in Huntersville for the brick dedication ceremony in April included Nola and her new “owner”, Sharon.  Nola was extremely quiet and well-behaved during the ceremony.  Afterward, however, she was a bit agitated.  She started walking in circles around the labyrinth, like she was looking for somewhere to nestle down.  She finally found the perfect place —  a spot right next to Allison’s brick, her paw seemingly pointing to the name of the woman who saved her life back in New Orleans years ago.

Coincidence?  Doubters and skeptics might think so.  But I don’t.  I think that animals, especially dogs, are sensitive creatures who have a delicate sense of feeling; an innate intuition that directs their behavior and compels them to act in ways that we simply can’t comprehend.  I think Nola could feel the spot where Allison’s energy pulsed the strongest.  That brick may not have had Allison’s scent, but it had her spirit.  And Allison’s spirit is what attracted Nola to her in the first place.  It apparently still does.  And now Allison’s spirit has a “forever home” in the labyrinth at Levine & Dickson Hospice House – Huntersville.  That’s what Nola showed us.

Sometimes it’s best not to ask why, but to relish in the small, amazing moments.  Don’t you think?

If you are interested in purchasing a memorial brick to honor a loved one, visit our website or contact Mary  Jo Carrier at 704.335.3536.  Personalized, engraved bricks may be embedded in the labyrinth at Levine & Dickson Hospice House –  Huntersville or in the garden path at Levine & Dickson Hospice House at Southminster.

Explore posts in the same categories: awareness, end of life, hospice, Levine & Dickson Hospice House, pet therapy, special events

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3 Comments on “(Wo)man’s best friend”

  1. Sheri Lowe Says:

    Beyond amazing story…beautifully told. Thank you!

  2. Lowe, Sheri Says:

    Love, love, love, love.

  3. Nancy Cole Says:

    I read this story to my husband as we were traveling, and I could hardly finish reading it because my voice choked up and tears ran down my face. He said, “they say dogs (and cats) can really sense your spirit and can feel your emotion and demeanor. I hope someone is caring for Nola.” This is truly an amazing story and I’m forwarding to all my friends with or without pets!

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