by Ruth Major (human)
and Greta (dog)
Greta and I have formed a mutually agreed-upon contract.
Greta is housed, fed and watered, and bathed.
I enjoy having a presence for conversation: motivation for early rising; a dog-clown to observe; a buddy who evokes sweet stories and cheery greetings from multitudes of strangers; a performing co-actress who evokes sparkles from nursing home residents; a foot-warmer; sharp protective barks warning me that someone new is at the door; someone to care for, to fuss over; big brown eyes that indicate understanding beyond my comprehension; and if I look closely, a half-inch tail that wags beneath her thick fur.
The contract stands firm. It’s a good deal.
Greta is my first pet Continued from page 1- other than two short-lived goldfish some 60 years ago. On a sunny afternoon four years ago the thought entered my mind, “I’d like a little dog.” “Where did THAT thought come from,” I wondered. Cleaning up after our kids’ pets had been more than enough for me! When I mentioned the thought to Jim, he laughed, “My dog days are over!” Since he had had major responsibility (and closeness) to our children’s’ pets after our children left the nest, I could understand that. I responded, “I think mine are just beginning.” He said, “Okay. Let’s think about it for a while and be sure.” We did and we were.
Our cousin Patty, an eccentric octogenarian, runs a homey kennel where all dogs and pups are unique special guests and thankfully so are her family members. Greta had been a breeding dog and could no longer have puppies. After thought and on condition, Patty gave Greta to me. Greta was ready to experience a new world. She had had a good sex life, an opportunity to mother. Now she is Princess Greta, cherished pet, traveler, companion, and friend.
The scientific community is researching pet therapy for use in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Hodgkins’, dementia. Intuitively, we have known for a long time that “dog is man’s best friend.”
Some older people cannot groove with adding a pet to their lives. They do not want to create yet another loss in their lives nor additional responsibilities and work. Like Jim, their dog days are over. Given time to think, older people know what they need. Given time to think, older people are most often wise and have self-knowledge earned over many years. Given time to think, older people will find their unique ways of filling their lives and lifting their spirits. Countless options await consideration.
One of my wise friends, however, fills her need for pet companionship by temporarily adopting Greta or her dog-friend Mattie. She dog-sits, walks with us, sews coats for them, and absorbs pet love. “Her” dogs bound over to meet their caring “aunt,” reflecting their love and appreciation for her.
Greta and I have a large soft red-haired stuffed dog. We cuddle with Jimbo and use him as a comforting pillow. Jimbo is shiny, bright-eyed and always accessible.
Most Care Center residents smile gently at Greta and reach out tentatively to touch her soft sweet fur when we visit them. One day I sat Greta beside a Care Center resident, and she lay back on the bed, tumbled Greta about, laughed and laughed and shouted, “A dog! A dog!” over and over. After ten minutes of roughhousing, she was ready to tell me her personal story. Several Care Center residents have pets of their own. Other residents watch their dog-neighbors closely and appreciatively.
Strangers will approach Greta and me to relate tales about a childhood pet or their Grandma’s pet. Memories and dog contact light up all of our spirits as they chat and pet.
Several months ago I wrote a song for Greta. I’ll include a few verses. Sing along if you like; the tune is “Yankee Doodle.” If you’d like a copy of the whole song, send your request to Ruth and Greta, c/o Huerfano Journal, P. O. 346, Walsenburg, CO 81089. We’ll send you a copy.
Angel Dog Song
(9 verses total)
Greta is my angel dog,
That is very plain to see,
God sent down this angel dog,
To share this time with me.
Greta eats with glee and ardor,
Greta acts just like her Mom,
Dogs end up like their owners,
Two old ladies waddling along.
Greta revels on lawns so many,
Not for pee but pleasure,
Wild abandoned moves make laughter,
Her joy is in great measure.
Big brown eyes top off the day, Bringing tales from owners, Greta is God’s PR pup,
As she takes on Walsenburg.
Greta and I need to work together now learning to use our manual treadmill, so we’ll wrap up our musings. Treadmill trainings take many yummy smelly treats and mutual loving patience. Our dog days have just begun.