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Monday, January 26, 2009

A ray of light through skies of gray...

This blog is about the very special visit with my girls that I was extremely lucky to have, while I was hospitalized at Mass General Hospital. I was there for 12 days total, and am now home; Im now able to see, touch, and play with my girls any time that I want. I will never take their presence and love for granted again...
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I’m still here. Still playing the waiting game, still sitting in my room at MGH. But today’s different. Sure, I woke up at an unreasonably early hour, ate my standard breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and home fries, and I took a shower. But today something really special happened. Today I got to see my girls for the first time in over a week.I left my girls to go to work at about 20 mins of 10 last Monday, which was January 12. I just got back from seeing them; 7 days, 3 hours and about 40 minutes without any contact from my kids. I don’t know why, but it seems like the more you love someone or something, and the more you try not to forget it, not to let it slip silently from your memory, the faster it fades away. I can picture some random celebrity at any point in time. Remember what someone was wearing in some episode of a stupid T.V. show, but I have a hard time remembering what my Dad looks like. I forget the details of his face, how strong he felt when I hugged him, and how tall he was to me, even when I was wearing dress shoes with a bit of a heel. This time in the hospital away from my dogs is no different. I cant remember how soft their fur is; I cant remember the dark depths that their eyes portray; I cant remember the sound of their whine, or their barks; I cant remember the delicate way that their muzzles taper into a fine point where a obsidian black wet nose rests. But I can remember all of those things now, because I was lucky enough to have a mom who drove the ½ hour down and back to bring them for a visit, to have a Dr. who wrote orders that let me go off the floor, to have a nurse that took time out of her busy day to wheel me down stairs, a building over both down and back, and to have met a security guard that, when he spotted us, looked the other way and gave us another 5 minutes.I sat in Christmas-Eve like anticipation at the windows, waiting for my moms blue jeep to pull around the corner, to deliver to me my girls. Finally, I saw them. My nurse went out and spoke with her, and the next thing that I knew was that my mom was leashing them up and bringing them inside of the building. Luckily today is MLK day, and the Wang building, which is mostly out-patient care, was closed and empty for the most part. The girls walked in and gazed around curiously at their new surroundings. They have been in hospital like settings before, but obviously not here at MGH. I was sitting in a wheel chair facing away from the windows, staring avidly at my furry children that just walked in. I called them, and my mom dropped their leashes and sent them to me. Shelby immediately registered that I was sitting there and started jumping up and rubbing her face into my legs and hands (she was wearing her gentle-leader which I instructed my mom to put on her before coming-to prevent her from screaming!) Heidi walked over to me, but didn’t seem as excited to see me. Sure, she came over and said hello, but wasn’t wiggling out of her skin like Shelby was. This, I have to be honest, was quite a disappointment. Heidi is supposed to be my “heart dog”. That once in a life time dog that you bond with so tightly, and so quickly that they are the equivalent of soul-mates. Heidi sure seemed indifferent to seeing me. So I focused on Shelby some more. I let her jump up into my lap, and took off her gentle-leader. She was panting quite a bit, probably due to both excitement and stress. I cradled her for a few minutes in my lap, and kissed her all over her furry, white arrow-blazed head. I kissed her on her nose, and looked into her eyes. I looked at her mouth, and at her teeth. I wanted to look for as long, and as hard as I could. I’m still not sure when I’ll be able to see them again. Then, I turned my attention to my somewhat indifferent Heidi. I picked her up and cradled her too in my lap. She seemed uncomfortable at first. She doesn’t like much being held, but this was even more stiff this time. I rubbed in her ears, kissed her head too, and then released her. They were both now trying to get me to pet them at the same time. I only have two hands, both of which have IV’s in them. So, I decided to sit on the floor. Here they had a little more access to me. Shelby tried again to get into my lap and nuzzle me; Heidi backed up into me awaiting her belly and bum rub. I of course obliged both. The next 15 or so minutes was a snuggle fest: I asked Heidi to get on her back so I could rub her tummy more fully, and Shelby repeatedly put her paw on my arm and listened intently to what ever words came out of my mouth. I asked her how she was, and if Mumma was feeding her, and playing with her. I told them I missed and loved them, though I didn’t say out loud everything that my heart was bursting to say. There were a few other people there, and my mom, and I didn’t want to look like a complete lunatic.When the visit had to end (as the security guard could no longer ignore us, as his boss spotted us on the security cameras), my mom asked them to come away and went to call my nurse to have her come and get me. Shelby was whining, and Heidi kept staring at me, not wanting to follow my mom away. I watched as she walked them to the car, and loaded them in. I heard Shelby doing her crazy barking in anticipation of the next ride. I wasn’t able to see Heidi, but my heart has placed the image of her looking longingly out the window, back at me who was secretly and quietly dying inside. My mom waved by from the window, and then drove away. The security guard then handed me something: it was Shelby’s gentle-leader that had been ignored by both of us on the ledge of the pay phones. I held it, and remembered my new favorite quote: “I feel the same spiritual comfort holding a leash, as others feel holding a rosary.” While I waited for the nurse to come back and get me, all sorts of thoughts about my girls flooded my mind. I realized how much comfort that they give me on a daily basis. For example, how wonderful it feels to have the warm weight of Shelby sitting on my lap while I watch T.V. or nap. How much joy I get from seeing them chasing each other in a game of sheltie-herding-tag out in the yard, or on a walk. How comforting it is to have someone to talk to, even if its just cooing nonsense while I walk to get “snackies”” for them. How much faster I fall asleep when I have my face buried in Heidi’s snow white mane, and my fingers entwined in her pumpkin-pie colored hair. These are the very personal things that make my life with my girls so amazing. There are of course so many general things that make living with dogs a joy for people all over the world. I hope to elaborate on those later. They’re pretty much almost all summed up in “A Pack of Two”, my favorite book of all time. As for right now, I think I’m going to try and read some more (a new book that I bought at the Boston Show called “Dogs of Dream Time”). I’m going to try not to focus on how much I miss my girls, but focus on how lovely it was to have seen them; to have touched them. I’m also going to try hard and not focus on the fact that I expected them to be so much happier to have seen me for the first time in a week. Its hard for a human who loves something so much, to feel like they are not getting that same loving feeling in return. But we, well, I as a human, have to realize that I am loving dogs; and one of the brilliance of dogs as a species, and one of the reasons that they have been so successful in keeping their role as mans best friend, is their ability to adapt. I don’t doubt that were the circumstances different and both of us were gone, and they were left in a strange environment, they would be much happier to see me. I’m trying to remember if this was the case when we left them with Becky a few years ago when we went down to Florida. I think that they were both overjoyed to have us back, and to be back on familiar ground. Although dogs are masters of adaptation, they don’t really like the change that comes with it. So, although they are functioning, and happy now, as my mom is taking SUCH good care of them, I’m sure that they will be happier and a bit more content once things are “back to normal” and their entire pack (or maybe in their case, “flock” is back together.) See? Now I feel better already. I’m going to go back and hold Shelby’s gentle-leader or a little while, and relish every single dog hair that I can find on my clothes; a memento from our precious visit.

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