wings and things

Pip, the therapy dog

on April 15, 2017

Recently, I have been at a bit of a loss for words, not for any particular reason, just feeling quiet. Also I have been quite preoccupied with Pip, our four-and-a-half-months-old miniature schnauzer.

I am training Pip to be a therapy dog and we are now a few weeks into “puppy pre-school.” So far, she is very good at sitting for food but not very good at obeying any other commands although she is house-trained simply because she is an inside/outside dog; and luckily she chooses outside to do her business.

Pip is already relatively well-behaved in the three nursing homes I take her to, including Anthony’s. For the most part, I keep her on a leash but in Anthony’s room she will now settle on her own pillow on the floor near his armchair for a good couple of hours. I keep her pillow, a container of dog biscuits and a water bowl in one of Anthony’s cupboards. In the other two nursing homes, the joy I see on some of the residents’ faces, when they see, pat or even hold Pip, is beautiful.

Anthony smiles at the way I fuss over Pip and I keep hearing myself sounding like an old woman with a little dog (ha!) But, despite his initial reaction to her puppyhood “It’s just a dog, Jules”, he and she have now bonded.

Me: Do you love her, Ants?

Anthony: Well who wouldn’t, Jules.

At home, Pip is now a hurricane of energy; she races in and out of the house and terrorises Jack, our Irish terrier who is still so in awe of her that he stands back when I feed them both and only eats Pip’s leftovers!

Every morning, I am greeted first thing with a deep growl from Pip, which is her rude way of asking me for breakfast. The closer I get to the refrigerator, the deeper the growl. Ming and I are getting a lot of laughs out of this hilarious new addition to the family.

Apparently I can register Pip as a therapy dog once she has undertaken further training so I am looking into this.

So, even though I’ve gone a bit quiet lately, it’s an accepting kind of quietness. I found out the other day that Anthony is now a ‘full hoist’ which means he is unable to walk at all. I had assumed that he was still maybe able to walk, using the walker, in the mornings, but I guess I was a bit nervous to ask the question because I didn’t want to know(?)

Oh how much I wish I had made more of the last time I saw Anthony walk using his walker – that shuffle-sprint-stall that I have known for nearly a decade. It seems impossible that he would now be more or less bed-ridden but I am an idiot to not have seen this coming.

And, as I contemplate whether to cry or not, I see from the front window of what used to be Anthony’s mother’s bedroom – now my study – a black fur-ball of absolute joy racing towards the front door.

Yipping with delight, Pip enters the quiet.

20 responses to “Pip, the therapy dog

  1. susanpoozan says:

    What a thoughtful task to undertake, training a therapy dog. I believe that they are a great success.

  2. Meg Lane says:

    This is so beautiful, every single word speaks to me and arouses a million emotions. I love you so much. More each day if this was possible.


  3. Dearest Jules, your words have a way of piercing through the outer skin right to the veins and arteries that carry blood too and from my heart, filling them with wonder, awe, joy, melancholy, love… all of it. I like the ‘all of it’ you inspire in me.

    And btw — you are not an idiot for not having seen the day Anthony was full hoist coming — you love him and your life together. Wanting to keep it ‘the same’, to stall time’s inevitable pushing him deeper into the disease of Parkinson’s is just very, very human, and loving and caring. Hugs dear heart.

  4. Thank God for Pip. ❤

  5. KDKH says:

    Thank you for updating us on Pip! I would have loved a picture, too, but I know that organizing the photos is sometimes the hardest part of a post.Glad to have a post without a cute puppy pic rather than no post at all. As I start to see wobbles in my own husband’s health, it clutches at my heart. i can’t imagine how hard your life is right now. The disappointment, the loneliness, the grief of a life that took a left turn that no one wanted. Thank you for sharing your life with us, to show us by example how to continue. How love doesn’t end.

  6. I’m sure there are a lot of people in nursing homes who have had to leave pets behind. You’re bringing a bit of love and happiness back into their lives. Funny about the growl for breakfast. My English field cocker does the same thing. So cute!

  7. Judy says:

    I’m so glad for the comfort Pip has brought you, Julie. He is your therapy and an angel.
    The only part of your post that gave me a pang was how harshly you spoke to yourself for “not seeing his inability to walk” coming. Would seeing that have been better? I believe you coped as best you could – in fact, anticipating with dread over his inevitable death is a black cloud hanging over you. I felt sad to see you call yourself an idiot.
    You are a gentle, loving and wonderful woman – mother, wife and friend. Please tell yourself those things. I hate seeing you beat yourself up. I care about you so much.

  8. You need those quiet times…I find too as probably most pet lovers, most especially older folk, that animals (cats/dogs/ ? ) give one such comfort and especially at those times of needing it so badly.
    And they sure do make you smile! Take care … Diane

  9. ksbeth says:

    and pip may just offer you a bit of joy and hope therapy in the process –

  10. judyrutrider says:

    Wow! You brought that into perspective in short order. Well done.

  11. tootlepedal says:

    The full hoist moment had to come but it is a very sad moment all the same. Our hearts go out you. Pat Pip for me.

  12. Animals can make such a difference to a persons life and I can imagine the joy those in nursing homes would get from seeing Pip

  13. Vicki says:

    I love the whole idea of therapy dogs. To see the joy on the face of those in a nursing home would make the training all worthwhile.
    Pip sounds delightful 🙂

  14. Ann Koplow says:

    Who wouldn’t love you, Julie.

  15. so glad Pip is bringing joy into your life

  16. lensgirl53 says:

    So glad you have Pip to keep you company! And so good for the residents to have a “pet.”

    Quiet is necessary. Quiet is good. It is the sound of that quiet that provokes deep thought. Like Pip is therapeutic so can be the “sounds of silence.” Sometimes that quiet is a writer’s best friend.

    I hope you find the good in it all. As the inevitable changes face you and Anthony, remember the Serenity Prayer….”…to accept the things you cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference.” Hugs.

  17. Sounds like Pip is a wonderful addition!

  18. dogdaz says:

    How wonderful that Pip brings a smile to you and also to Anthony. Dogs have a way of healing. Hopefully, you will keep Anthony walking in your dreams. Maybe he will even play with Pip there.

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