Friday, February 4, 2011

Under the Radar

This is sort of a tail-spin off of  one of the  previous Nicest People Posts, because it has to do with someone I've already mentioned.  Someone we met out walking.  But because I can't mention names here (you'll soon understand why), I will call these dear friends Mr. and Mrs. Whitehouse...  because their house is white.  Clever.

When we met  Mr. and Mrs. Whitehouse on one of our walks, it was love at first site --- for each of us. Chester paved the way, that's for sure, and our friendship is forever.  Mrs. Whitehouse, with beautiful hair the color of her house, and sparkly (& mischievous I might add) bright blue eyes, keeps a cupboard full of pupperonies just for Chester. We visit at least weekly, where Chester scores far too many pupperonies, for minimal tricks, and then gets a chaser of whipped cream straight from the squirt can into his mouth.  He then laps up water from an antique bowl, always in the same corner in the kitchen, with FILTERED water.  She spoils him. Kind of a grandma thing.  He loves it.  Chester adores Mr. and Mrs. Whitehouse.

You are perhaps wondering why Under the Radar is the title, or maybe not?
Here's the story. Mrs. Whitehouse, Chester's beloved "grandma",  had hip replacement surgery, and was not recovering as quickly as hoped.  Mr. Whitehouse, tall and gentle, with those same sparkly eyes & a memory as sharp as a tack,  adores his sweet wife , (and Chester too I might add), and he shared with us that his beloved-sweetheart was not doing well and would need a few more days in the hospital.

Well,  immediately, upon hearing this news,  Chester donned his super-dog-yellow-vest, Keith and I just wore regular clothes, and we were off to the hospital to visit our neighbor.  On the way, I sort of remembered that maybe,  perhaps, this was THE hospital that did not allow therapy dogs in patient's rooms. (I know, how could it be??) Sometimes it's best not to ask what the rules are,  especially in emergency cases such as these...and just ask forgiveness later, if necessary.  I shared this bit of  info with Keith, while holding Chester's ears closed (didn't want him to have to deal with rejection issues at such a young age-- he might need a therapy dog or something, ha ha).  Anyways, back to the story.

Keith informed me that he knew the back way, the basement way, into this hospital,  bypassing the front desk gestapos.  I love that guy, he smiles at danger.  And so, parking down under, we made our way through the basement hospital doors, down the hallway, and up the elevator to the 7th floor, kind of under the radar.  Walking past the nurses station like we belonged, we strolled into Mrs. Whitehouse's room.  She sat alone, staring out the window, with just about the saddest expression I have ever seen. She heard us before she saw us, and turned.  After spotting her four legged-friend (and I like to think, us too) she broke  into smiles and grins and welcomed us into her arms.  Kisses and hugs all around.  Before we could stop her, she of course offered Chester  her untouched hospital tray of food, which he sniffed and refused (interesting).  She then  unscrewed the top of her water jug and gave the thirsty boy a drink, while she sipped from her straw out of  the  same container.

Mrs. Whitehouse was thrilled to have us and we watched as her countenance changed from hopeless to hopeful.  While patting Chester who was glued to her side, our friend chattered on, in whispered tones, pointing to the two-way mirror the nurses were using to spy on her. Really, I thought? ...trying to examine the mirror out of the corner of my eye.   And then in hushed tones, she explained that the night nurses were going to take her to the basement and torture her after the sun went down. Hmmm, I was just in the basement....I didn't notice any torture chambers? Keith was shaking his head and rolling his eyes at me. After 35 years of wedded bliss,  he seems to know what I am thinking & reads me like a book.  He mouthed the word ANESTHESIA  and PAIN MEDS to me.  Oh, so not really a two way mirror and no underground torture rooms? His head was still shaking , obviously not surprised that I was considering this cconspiracy theory story. Personally, I thought Mrs. Whitehouse was quite convincing on drugs.

When we knew it was time to go, Chester gave a final round of kisses and tail wags, we did the same.  Hating to leave our friend, but thankful to see her smiling again, the three of us walked shoulder to shoulder, and tall, out the door and past the nurses station, greeting all.  We then rode down the MAIN elevator, smiling to Dr.'s and nurses and visitors.  We exited on the main floor, past the Front Desk, then out through the revolving automatic doors. I did notice Chester held his tail especially high, and pranced a little prancier, as we strolled past the questioning looks of the front desk ladies.   Mission Accomplished.  

Epilogue ~  Mrs. Whitehouse was home within 24 hours.  And now, months later, is back to ballroom dancing with her handsome husband.   I think perhaps Chester's visit was the turning point.  The names in this story have been changed, well to protect the just never know about those mysterious night nurses.
Still don't know if this hospital allows Therapy Dogs in ~~  actually, I kind of like not knowing :-)

Chester's first Therapy Appointment...."unofficial" that is

Chester's first unofficial and unexpected therapy visit was with Sherm, he was one of those Nicest People we met while walking.  Chester was just a pup, only 6 months old, didn't even have his yellow-vest yet.

To jog your memory, we met Sherm and Jackie while hiding from the big dog (see previous post). Well, after our initial meeting & party on the lush green grass, we visited regularly with these now-dear-friends. On this hot summer's day, Chester and I stopped in, just for a moment, just to say Hi. Inside their beautiful home, we talked and relaxed in their cozy den, a room neatly filled with books, framed family photos, and comfy chairs.  Chester, always invited inside, was not being his usual social self, rolling on the floor asking for tummy rubs, or trotting from person to person for delightful ear scratches and back massages, or sniffing and exploring the new land.  Today, Chester was staying close to Sherm, not moving from the side of his friend in the leather recliner.  After trying to climb up onto his buddy's lap, Chester settled for resting his head there instead, content to stay close while Sherm stroked his soft golden fur.   I took a moment and just watched these two.  Finally, I noticed what my pup knew already.  I asked Sherm if he was feeling okay?  Our friend, with his gentle ways and keen mind, went on to explain that he was in extreme back pain, and was in fact going to have outpatient surgery in a few days to relieve the problem.

I sat listening to his story, while Chester rested at his feet.   Before leaving, I asked if we could pray together.  We held hands, with puppy in the middle, asking our Papa in Heaven to please heal Sherm and to guide the surgeon's hand.  Sherm's eyes were wet, mine and Jackie's were leaking, and Chester's tail was thumping. God was in our midst.

I was reminded afresh that day, to keep my eyes open, to take time, to not be in a hurry. Chester sensed, long before I did, that this was not "visit as usual today."  I'm glad I paid attention, or I woulda missed a God moment.

By the way.  Sherm's surgery was a grand success.  He's back to lawn mowin', dancin', and honey-do's.  The pain is mostly gone. Thank you Papa for answered prayer, and dear friends.  And for Chester.

The Nicest People, ..continued, Part 2

Another walk, another day.  Chester and I rounded the corner, only to find a GIANT German Shepard, who was not a happy camper. He was lunging on his leash, barking in a not-so-happy-I'm-hungry-for-fluffy-puppy sort of language.  His  master was struggling to stay in control, and I was thinking that the one holding the leash was NOT alpha dog, if you catch my drift. So, Chester and I gave these two a lot of room (we did not want to be lunch), and waited on someone's lush green lawn under the shade of their tree, until these two passed.  We maybe, kinda were behind the tree, I don't remember :-) . 

You know, you can meet the nicest people while hiding and avoiding a hungry German Shepard.   Ron and Joan came out to greet us.  It was their lush lawn we were standing on.  They kindly said we could take refuge on their property any day.  Chester won their hearts immediately, rolling over for a tummy rub.   Then out came Jackie, neighbor to Ron and Joan.  We moved to Jackie's lush lawn, then out came Sherm (Jackie's very sweet husband), "Are you having a party without me?" he asked.   And then from across the street came Foster and Tanya, parents to George (a lovable and slightly crazy Chocolate Lab).  And... our friendships began.

At the time, I don't think thankful is the word I would have used for that scary big black dog. But today, I would say the word thankful over and over.  Without him, don't know that we would have met Ron and Joan, Sherm and Jackie, Foster and Tonya...and George, ~ our friends.  You know it's interesting, I've never seen that German Shephard again.  And we walk a lot.  I wonder...

The Nicest People...Part 1

Puppies are people magnets.  They really are.  If it wasn't for Chester, we could be friendless in PA.  OK, maybe not friendLESS, but less friends for sure.  When Chester was just a furry little tail waggin' fluff ball, he was just irresistible.  (Still is I might add -- Mom's say these things)  We would walk down the street with him  trotting by our sides, and people would stop mowing their lawns, get up off the porch, or take a break in their "run", just to come meet the new pup on the block.

I think God used Chester to bring certain families into our hearts and lives....and I'm way thankful.
Like Charlie, and his family.  Charlie, likes to play basketball on his driveway. Charlie is a great young man.  Charlie is very patient big brother with a little sister who obviously thinks he hung the moon.  Charlie is a wonderful son, raising terrific parents :-), who like to play ball with him in the front yard.

One beautiful spring day, this friendly, smiling, hoop-throwin', blonde-headed third grader, dropped his basketball and came to greet us.  Puppies and boys, like peas and carrots, like Batman and Robin, they just go together. Almost daily, if Charlie was out playin', we'd stop and talk and have pup-time.  This one particular day stands out to me ~~~We were way down the block, and I could see Charlie shooting hoops in the distance.  He spied us, ran to the backyard yelling all the way, "Mom, Dad, Chester's coming, Chester's coming ~~ Come meet Chester!!"  And so we met the family. Great family, wonderful family.  Thanks to Chester and Charlie, we met.  We became friends. We are so thankful.  I look forward to our springtime, summertime, conversations on the driveway or over the fence ~ just chatting, sometimes sharing tears and prayers, sometimes talkin' story,  sometimes tossing tennis balls for Chester,  ~ just being friends.  

You know, you can meet the nicest people while out walking.   Hidden treasures in the neighborhood. Thank you Charlie, and Chester.