97: Friends for Life

97: Friends for Life

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog

Friends for Life

Fun fact: The Hebrew word for dog is kalev from the words ka (like) and lev (heart) meaning like a heart.

My mom, Maryanne, had at least one dog in her home from the time she was born. They were like an extension of her. When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, she could no longer care for herself, let alone a pet, so her dog ownership days were over.

I had to find a home where my mom could be cared for professionally. I visited numerous board-and-cares to interview the staff and make sure they would give my mom the attention she needed. One of those facilities was All for Seniors, a five-bedroom, private home in the Mira Mesa community of San Diego, California. When I knocked on the door, and we were greeted by Sammy and Bella, I knew my mom was home.

Bella is a beautiful, posh Maltese with long, fluffy-white hair. She runs around the house in frilly dresses, getting lots of attention, and is affectionate with anyone and everyone. Sammy is a white Poodle with brown ears and a large snout. She’s a bit standoffish and awkward, and lives in Bella’s shadow. My mom loved them both but Sammy was her favorite.

When my mom declined suddenly and became bedridden, Sammy didn’t leave her side. Sammy lay at the foot of her bed, resting her face on her front paws, and watched over my mom while she slept the days away. If anyone tried to remove Sammy, she growled. When the caregivers had to make Sammy leave my mom’s room, she stayed outside the door like a guard until she could go back in. When the doorbell rang, Sammy didn’t budge. When it was mealtime, Sammy stayed with my mom, missing out on all the scraps dropping on the kitchen floor.

Hospice determined that my mom was dying and put her on the imminent list. I wanted to stay and be there when my mother passed, so I had to be sure about the timing.

“How do you know she won’t pull through again?” I asked her nurse.

“She’s not eating,” the nurse said. “She’s depressed. She’s lost her energy. Just look at her.”

She was pointing at Sammy. Hospice based my mom’s prognosis on some medical factors, but what really stood out was the sudden change in Sammy. Hospice was right. Sammy knew and was there until the very end. So was I. When the mortuary came, Sammy remained to see my mom off. Then she climbed into my arms and comforted me.

~Adrienne A. Aguirre

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