Saturday, January 9, 2010

Nursing Home for Dogs

The dogs wake up stiff and limping today. It’s their arthritis, I suppose, for they are both older dogs that receive “geriatric care” according to the veterinarian’s bill. Our record low temperatures don’t help any; it is hard to keep the chill out of the house.

Buster Black has arthritis in his left front leg, a heart murmur, hearing loss, and cataracts, and Buster Brown has arthritis in his hip and left front leg, and a thyroid condition. (And no, it’s not that I just LOVE the name “Buster.” The story of how I have two dogs with the same name will wait for another day.)

But even though they hurt, they get out of their warm, soft beds and follow me to the kitchen where I switch on the coffee maker. While the smell of strong coffee fills the kitchen, they sit quietly and watch me as I take down my cup and saucer and get out the sugar and creamer, arranging them on a napkin.

I turn to them for the Good Morning Greeting. Buster Brown bobs his big head to the side and raises his left paw for me to shake it, then lays down in the “settle” position while I pet him and snuggle against his massive neck. Buster Black, newer to the household, sits patiently and looks on. When I turn to him, he begins to tremble but his little stub of a tail wags while I scratch behind his ears and rub his belly and love on him a while.

I wrap each of their morning meds in a slice of skinny meat. They swallow it whole and then go outside. Today they do not sniff the fence line or wander across the pasture to the mailbox, but hurry from the frozen front yard back into the warmth of the house, both favoring their left front legs as they step across the threshold to the carpet.

They cannot seem to get comfortable. Buster Black continues to tremble as if he can’t get warm. Buster Brown licks, licks, licks his left leg. I throw some bath towels into the clothes dryer, and when they are heated, cover the dogs with them. Buster Black stops trembling. Buster Brown quits licking.

I tend to these two elderly codgers throughout the day, heating up more blankets, giving them more meds. I think about some Lessons from Dogs.

Even if you hurt, try to get up. A retired elementary school principal once told me her philosophy was to “Get up, fix up, and show up.” She battled diabetes and often didn’t feel well, but she said those three “ups” gave her a plan every morning, even on the worst days.

Take time for a Good Morning Greeting. A connection and touch to those you love is a good way to start the day. We have been separated through the night through our sleep and dreams. How pleasant to awaken and affirm that you are glad to come together in wakefulness another day.

Medicine is not so bad if it’s wrapped in something tasty. Unpleasant things may be a part of our normal life. But we can take the edge off if we wrap them up in a good attitude.

A warm blanket feels like love. What a blessing it is to settle into the comfort someone has offered us! But it seems the greater blessing is to cover someone needy with comfort, assurance, and encouragement, then see them become calm and rest.


  1. Thank you for this. Very well written, and as always, encouraging...

  2. I love your blogs. You were MADE for just this sort of thing, Doris. Your way with words is such an encouragement. Thank you for sharing your gift in order to be a blessing and encouragement to so many others. I needed this morning's thoughts. Thank you.

  3. I can appreciate this posting because I am caring for our ailing 14-year-old "prayed for" dog, Biscuit. He is in the last stages of cancer and still gets up and wags every day. He is providing me with many lessons on winding down with a good attitude and keeping his eyes on his master.