Zelda arrived today with an extra energetic smile. It was almost as if she knew we were going to be taking pictures and doing “special work.” It’s such a joy to round the corner from my weekly meeting to see Zelda hard at work bringing the best out of people. She holds her head up at an angle where those soft brown eyes just shine! This is her day! Her moment! She spreads smiles and brings memories out of the hardest of hearts.
Today, she has a prance in her step as she works with Sally. Sally has been in our inpatient rehab for several days and has a discharge date for tomorrow. She will be going home with assist of her daughter. The last couple of days have been a real challenge for the therapist. Sally has not wanted to participate in her daily therapy. In fact she told the therapist this morning when she was showering, that she wasn’t going to get back out of bed again today. I had asked one of the P.T.’s at our weekly meeting if she had a patient that would be walking in the hall this morning. The P.T. said, “yes, but its Sally and I’m not sure I can get her out of bed. I’ll go ask her.”
Minutes later, I look up and coming down the hall in a wheel chair with the P.T. following with her walker is Sally. I almost didn’t recognize her. This “eager beaver” waving her arms and saying, “oh you sweet thing, come to me! Look how beautiful you are is Sally. She quickly says, “Ok show me what to do. How does this work? I’m going to walk the dog!” The P.T. looks at me with a quizzical expression and shrugs her shoulders. “All I said was, would you like to get out of bed and walk the therapy dog? She nearly knocked me down getting in the wheelchair.”
Casie, the handler for Zelda waits patiently as the P.T. explains to Sally how she will stand up and have the gait belt on for safety, keep the walker at a safe distance from her body, use the correct body stance, and look forward not down. Now it’s Zelda’s time. Zelda takes her place beside her “new best friend” wagging her tail and smiling. Casie explains to Sally how she will hold one leash and Casie will hold the other leash.
Sally begins her walk, within moments Sally and Zelda are in sync. Sally begins to tell Casie about her two Chihuahuas that are waiting for her at home. Eventually she admits they are her more like her children. Casie reassures her that it’s ok to have “fur babies!” Sally inquires about how Zelda became a therapy dog. Casie tells the story of Zelda’s rescue for the 100th time like it was the first time. Casie ends the story revealing that Zelda is “her girl, her fur baby.”
It all started with a rescue dog that found her “forever mom.” A mom that would spend hours and hours taking obedience classes and pursuing her dream of spreading smiles and happiness to those who are having a moment. A moment where they need a relief. A relief possibly from a setback they hadn’t planned, an illness or maybe just a stressful day in the life of a healthcare associate. You see, Zelda isn’t always a therapist for the patient. Our associates need and count on her pretty brown eyes and sweet smile to bring out the softness in our hearts and put a smile on our face.
Zelda isn’t just Casie’s girl, she is everybody in inpatient rehab’s girl. We count on her every Wednesday to come and let us put our hands all over her beautiful black soft hair that smells so good! We look into those brown eyes as she looks up at our face and we say, “ How’s my girl?”