I love people, always have, always will. The sheer joy of being in a crowd and being the center
of attention just can't be beat. Growing up my parents thought I would make a good politician.
They saw how I could skillfully work a room from one end to the other. I was compared to the late
Richard J. Daley (whoever he was, way before my time), in that I could fit my charm to the occasion and who was present.
When I grew into a young man and was excelling in my education I was given the nickname the little
prince. Everyone thought it fit, I was "regal" in my bearing and interactions with everyone. Once
I graduated from all my schooling I was given a new nickname. Mom and dad started calling me the king.
Truth be told although I am not really a king, I love the title better than any of the other titles I have
I was called to my career. I knew what I wanted to do from a very young age. I knew I was born to do
this work and to me it is the most important job of all. I visit many people. My purpose is simple;
it is to bring them joy and happiness. Doing the job properly means I provide them with a little relief
of their pain. If I offer just a moment of hope, a glimmer of laughter or even a fleeting second of normalcy.
Then I have accomplished what I set out to do.
My appointment book is full, often a year or more in advance. The worst part of my job is to turn down
requests. It is hard to say no. There is so much need, so many who need help and yet there are so few
who have chosen to help. I hope reading my story will inspire others to continue what I do, nothing could
make me happier than to know others will follow.
The majority of those I visit suffer from Alzheimer's disease or some form of age related dementia. It
is not easy to watch a mind and a memory slip away. It is hardest on the family members, caregivers and
professionals involved on a daily basis with these wonderful folks. I would like to tell you about a few of my friends.
George (not his real name of course) came to the US from Europe to find his fortune. Along the way he
had a wonderful family and made many friends. George always dressed in a proper three-piece suit and
conservative tie, laced and polished wing tip shoes completed his look. Being from the old country,
he had a reserved and courtly charm. He never wanted to get too close or join in an activity and make
a spectacle of himself. When George came to a gathering, we had an understanding. He sat on the edge
and we nodded to one another. Two CEO's acknowledging each other. Very prim, very proper and that was
perfect for him.
One day while I was visiting, I knew George was not only have a hard time that day, but also he was not feeling
very well. I tried to tell the caseworker, the nurse and my assistant. Unfortunately no one listened. I was
at the other end of the room looking the other way and I turned around and bolted over to George. It was too
late. He fell unconscious to the floor.
Everyone was around George now. I backed away and let the nurses pick him up and check him over. Once it was
determined that no permanent damage was done, I took control. I went on patrol. I made sure everyone was seated
properly, that none were allowed to fall asleep or get sideways in their chairs. Even if that meant I had to go
nose to nose with them to keep their attention. This was now my room, my responsibility and my domain. No one
dared ignore an order barked out by me from now on we would make sure every one was safe.
Afterwards I had a few words with my assistant and the staff. Truth be told I was not happy with the
jobs they had done that day. I had a long talk with everyone about how in the future we must pay better
attention. I am happy to report that since that time no one else has ever fallen when I have been present.
Maureen had a lovely Irish brogue and a wild sense of humor. The rotten disease took most of the best
punch lines to Maureen's jokes away from her. She would still tell me her jokes and I would laugh uproariously
even with out the last line complete. One day after visiting with many in the grand parlor I had the occasion
to sit a little extra with this little lass. She held my assistant's hand and put her finger ever so gently under my chin.
On that winter's day as the sun broke through the gray clouds I could see the veil lift from my friend's eyes.
Maureen remembered many of the punch lines. She really did tell the best jokes. She remembered more than just
today and more than when she was a wee little one growing up on the Emerald Isle. She told me of her struggles
in coming to this country. I heard her story from start to middle to end. She told me that on days like this
it was so very hard for her. She liked it much better when she did not know why she was here. Because right
now I know I am loosing a piece of my mind a little bit at a time and knowing it scares the hell out of me.
I nodded in agreement, there was nothing more I could do.
Soon she stroked the side of my face and a single tear ran down her face. I stared so hard into her
eyes and she held my gaze. We were in a trance together, her and I. I saw the haze descend, the spark
of light began to dim behind her glinting eyes. The veil was pulled down once again. Maureen told me
another joke and there was no punch line. I laughed my best laugh and walked her down the hall to lunch.
By the time I got back to my truck, I was crying and so was my assistant. How could we not!
Emily was having a rough day. She hated to get a bath. I don't blame her I hate it too. It is even
worse when it takes someone else to get you undressed, put in the tub and then do the scrubbing for you.
She started to scream before the LPN even got to her room. I heard the screaming from way down the hall.
I had a pre-arranged program to conduct in the Day room. When we had finished poor Emily was still screaming
at the top of her lungs. Enough I said and headed down the hall, while Emily was being wheeled out. The
second I laid my eyes upon her I was very upset. Blood was gushing out of her forehead. Emily was screaming
my name over and over and begging to see me.
I charged right over to her. She immediately reached out over two nurses, the LPN and my assistant. Her arms
were flailing all around. Finally in a wild stab, she managed to catch me by the ear. She grabbed on with an
iron grip. I shoved away the person right in front of me and got right up by Emily. Finally, finally, she
stopped howling. Let go everyone said. "NO, NO, NO!" I said. I stood right there and Emily hung on for dear life.
The ER nurse was summoned and Emily held on tight to me, while she was patched up. By now my aid was
thrown out, but I stood firm and Emily would not let go. It's okay, I thought. I am here and you just
hang on while they close up that wound and bandage you up. When they were finished I stayed plastered
next to her wheel chair, she was still clinging to my ear, crushing it if you must know the truth.
We took my dear sweet Emily for a lazy walk down the hall and then into the community room. I stayed with
her for awhile and soon she relaxed her grip. She calmly smoothed out my ear and spoke into it in such a
quiet voice. "Thank you my boy, with you here with me, I knew I was safe" I gave her a big sloppy wet kiss
good bye and I was on my way for the rest of my day. And yes the next day my ear was not only tender but
also black and blue. I wore it like the badge of honor it was.
Those are just a few of the stories of my friends. Now can you see why I love what I do? I have many more
stories I could tell. I will save some of them for another day. You see, I must be on my way. I have a very
important visit today!
(Do you need more information about what I do? You can contact my assistant or my organization.
My name is Noble, CGC, TDIA. I am a seven year old White German Shepherd and I am a titled Therapy
dog working for Therapy Dogs International.)