We are visiting my parents and took our yellow lab, Molly, with us. My mom is back living at home with my dad after a serious illness last fall that had her hospitalized for 7 weeks. During the hospitalization that included 8 days in ICU, we thought she’d never be able to return home. But, here she is…living at home, independently.
After seeing her barely able to feed herself in mid-October and also being non-ambulatory, it is amazing that she is living with my dad without outside help. She is even back to some light meal prep and household chores. She uses a walker on occasion in the house. And, is careful with her daily activities. Gone are the days of running around to stores for hours of shopping for food or clothes or gifts or any of the other niceties of living that we all take for granted. But, these changes all seem to be accepted. She is thankful to be home, as my dad is to have her back with him in the home they love. They are helping each other and their love for each other shows.
Our decision to bring our dog was left up to my dad. When we called and said we were coming to visit, he asked about Molly and whether she’d be coming with us. I told him it was up to him. Molly came with my husband last fall when he came back to pick me up – as I stayed two and a half weeks after our initial flight when we came after mom was admitted to ICU. Molly did fine with my Dad who moves slower than he has but is still active in their house and yard. It’s to be expected, he’ll be 86 this year. So, when I told him it was up to him whether we bring Molly or not, he said he was okay with it. It was obvious he enjoyed the dog in the fall and would enjoy a visit from her again.
Don’t get me wrong, we had some hesitancy about this. My mom isn’t used to a dog – let alone a big dog with high energy. We had cats growing up, not dogs. But, we saw that Molly was careful around my dad when we visited last fall and thought she’d be the same around my mom. We were also ready to take precautions to safeguard my mom when she was moving throughout the house.
Before we arrived, we called first. We wanted to make sure my mom was sitting in a chair when she met Molly. As a labrador Molly is excited when she first meets people. This excitement only lasts about five minutes and has gotten less as she’s outgrown puppyhood. She’ll be three years old in June. But, we didn’t want to take a chance.
As it happened, my mom was napping when we arrived. She was still sitting when she met Molly for the first time. The excitement quickly abated as Molly reacquainted herself with my parents’ home. By dinner, she was comfortable and had received a lot of petting and kisses from both my parents. But, this morning, less than 24 hours after arriving, Molly seems to be attached to my mom already. She seems to know to stay to the side of her and walk behind her at my mom’s pace. In other words, Molly knows…Molly knows she has to be careful, be calm, and be gentle with my parents. She innately senses they need a “more” gentle dog.
In fact, my husband just commented that “his” dog has abandoned him for my folks! This is rare. Molly is super attached to my husband. He’s her primary caregiver so it makes sense. But, the dog seems to know that she’s already loved by my parents and is sopping it up. More than that, she seems attached to my mom. The observation that animals know how to behave around different people is making us smile… Yes, animals know.
I can see how pet therapy works!