This week when Willie put on his vest, he immediately was ready to go to work. He sat up straight in the back of the car and kept looking at me to see where we were going. We went back to see Mr. S this week at his nursing home facility. When we walked up to the porch, Mr. S was sitting with a friend talking. As soon as Mr. J saw Willie, he started talking about his dogs and how he had always wanted to train his Labradors to be therapy dogs.
It’s amazing to me the impact Willie has on people he meets. People open up and tell stories about lives they used to have, but not only that. Willie is teaching me to slow down and listen to people. I would have never thought about Mr. J and the change his life has taken in being in a nursing home and not having dogs because I would have never known that if I hadn’t brought Willie to see Mr. S. I also would have never known how much it means to people to be able to pet a dog for just a short period of time and feel them smelling their hands and next and be genuinely interested in knowing them.
We live in a mostly hands free society, except for the initial handshake, so to have another living being focusing intently on who you are, what you smell like and where you are going can work wonders in the people we are visiting, but also in me. I’ve certainly found myself opening up more to the people around me because in some way I feel relieved that Willie is by my side, too. It’s amazing what a little attention, an open ear, and a watchful eye can do to help people hope and heal.