FRONT ROW: left to right
Misty Luke Jasmine
BACK ROW: left to right
me Dave Michele
Yet another sprinkling of ice and dumping of snow challenged the four of us on our drive that morning. Michele and Jasmine (both featured often in this blog), and Misty and I were on our way to offer loving therapy at the memorial service for Shirley Frost, mother of Sandra Frost, our Therapeutic Paws of Canada (TPOC) Team Leader for Pickering-Ajax. As we arrived at the funeral home, we met Dave Price, TPOC’s Vice-Chair and his little cutie, Luke. I’d never met Luke before but this smallish, rescued Portuguese Water Dog seemed very much an old soul with his wise eyes and dignified carriage.
Misty got right down to work, pulling me into a reception room that was becoming crowded, even on this inclement morning. Michele, Jasmine, Dave and Luke were right behind us.
I’m often asked, “So what does a Therapy Dog do at a funeral?” The answer, as with any other situation where a Therapy Dog works, is they share their loving compassion in whatever manner humans need at that moment. People may feel confused when chuckling in a building that gives grief a voice. Not so with Therapy Dogs. Misty stands with tail wagging ever so slightly, and licks proffered cheeks, while she is stroked, embraced and cried on. Likewise with Jaz and Luke. They receive the stories about how Shirley adored dogs and find the people who need a dog to lean into them.
After about an hour, we are called into the chapel for the service. The dogs are not off-duty yet. I always sit at the end of a pew so Misty has room to stretch into the aisle – and people smile, walking around her, and reaching down to stroke her ears as they pass. A service of loving moments, funny moments, unforgettable moments of a life well lived ensues. All dogs are solemn and once again I marvel at how our Pet Therapists can be so goofy in the backyard, stuffing several tennis balls into one mouth, yet so respectfully still when they know they are called upon to serve.
Then, it happened again. I think the next time Misty and I are on duty at a funeral, I will not take her to the reception. One after another people want to share yummy snacks with Misty (which Misty undoubtedly would love to hoover ) but she’s still On Duty – it’s not allowed.
The drive home was quiet. Snow and ice had stopped their assault. Jasmine and Misty were curled up in the back of Michele’s car, quickly asleep. Soon it would be time for goofiness.
* * *
This service marked Misty’s official return to work. She was then about 2 months post-op and we have now made a few visits back on the Palliative Care Unit. She is still a little tired and some days after romping in the snow with Delaney and Finnegan she limps a bit... but she is always bouncing when I pull her red TPOC vest out of the closet and she knows it’s time for work. I’ll update the blog with our renewed visits soon.
e to edit.