Forbidden

September 6, 2013

When I take Brio to The Place, we often meet people in the Fireside room or the hall who want us to stop so they can say hello and pet her and scratch vigorously along her back or behind her ears. If they haven’t met her before, they want to know my dog’s name, age, and pedigree. They love hearing the story of her rescue while she looks up at them attentively. All true, all true, she might be thinking. Lucky me.Brio_what's in it for me?

Lucky me is what I’m always thinking as I listen to the stories then told to me. Some of these people tell about dogs and cats they had as children, but most are likely to mention an animal friend they lived with recently, within the past few years. These stories almost always start with, “I had a dog…” Or, “I had a cat…” They had to leave these pets behind when they moved into their apartments at The Place, where pets are forbidden.

I remember all the dogs and cats I’ve come across at the Humane Society whenever I’ve looked for a new animal friend, many with stories attached of elderly owners who had to say good-bye when the time came to move into an assisted living facility or a nursing home. I think of how I, too, am getting older and how devastating it would be to unwillingly separate myself from Brio or any future animal companion.

Today dogs and cats who are trained to spend quality nuzzling time with elders are brought to some places by their human sidekicks. Here, for example, is Malibu, a therapy dog in a very brief video of one such visit (too brief; I wanted more, but then that’s what I’m trying to describe here so the brevity is perfect, really).

I’ve seen a llama at The Place. Therapy llamas are a big hit wherever they go.llama

I’ve never seen a cat visiting (though I’ve suggested it), and Brio is the only regular dog visitor. Alice misses her when I can’t bring her because my day involves too many errands to leave a dog waiting in a hot car. When she does come, she gets to sprawl on the couch, play with the ball (chasing inside, a rare treat), and she has Alice’s adoring face to gaze upon as much as she likes.

Alice started life with dogs. Here’s the first family dog, Pom, aka Pom-Pom.

Lew, Pearl, Lillian, and Alice with Pom.

Lew, Pearl, Lillian, and Alice with Pom.

Fortunately, she married a man who always expected to have animals in his life, too.

Roger and his dog Bonny

Roger and his dog Bonny

Alice didn’t have to face the sorrow of leaving an animal behind. Trixie, the last dog in Alice and Roger’s life together, had been gone for a while when she moved here.

And now she has Brio, as well as occasional drop-ins from Milo, who came to see her for her birthday.Alice and MiloBut I think of other people at The Place and all The Places, men and women who crave that connection to the soft and warm, the always-present-no-matter-what, that steady breathing in and breathing out alongside their own, another life joined with theirs, the two of them not at the “end” of anything but moving forward together. A look around the Web reveals these connections everywhere in art and photography; their importance cannot be denied.

By Max Lieberman (1878)

By Max Lieberman (1878)

Grandpa and Apollo, by Christopher Crawford.

Grandpa and Apollo, by Christopher Crawford.

man on bike with cat

By Bartolme Esteban Murillo.

By Bartolme Esteban Murillo.

woman and cat

Costa Rican fisherwoman Cecelia Villegas photographed by Juan Carlos Ulate.

Costa Rican fisherwoman Cecelia Villegas photographed by Juan Carlos Ulate.

Woman feeding birds, by Jill Freedman.

Woman feeding birds, by Jill Freedman.

Painting by Ivan Andreivich Pelevin (1887).

Painting by Ivan Andreivich Pelevin (1887).

man head to head with dog

Woman feeding birds (photo by Jennifer Feshenko).

Woman feeding birds (photo by Jennifer Feshenko).

Bronze sculpture by Glenna Goodacre.

Bronze sculpture by Glenna Goodacre.

I have no idea what a solution to this sad state of affairs would look like. Do you?

Go here for some information on estate planning for your pets.

You can read more about Cecelia Villegas, the fisherwoman, and see more photographs of her in this photo essay by Juan Carlos Ulate.

8 Responses to “Forbidden”

  1. Pene Fedro Says:

    It is heartbreaking that people can’t bring their pets. More and more research says that animals make life richer.
    Good post as usual. Pene

    Like

  2. Katharine Cahn Says:

    Lovely! Now can you play with Alan and me? We are on our last day of vacation.

    Like


  3. Lovely thoughts and photos. I got to go with a therapy dog on her rounds at an hiv aids hospice….wonderful memory

    Like

  4. D2 Says:

    Your last blog made me sad and that I don’t want to live so long that I lose things like sight and hearing that are so important to me now…but this one…I can not imagine a life without a pet.

    Like

  5. Lisa Oreste Gano Says:

    Ahhhh Andrea … you remind me just how tender and precious is our connection with the furry ones. Maybe because they have no boundaries to connection?

    Just returned home from Holiday myself and Lucy, my cat of 8 years, has finally forgiven me for being gone and jumped up on a pillow beside me … purring loudly and nuzzling my hand persistently. Lucky me !!

    Like

  6. Holly Says:

    On the question of solutions – though not for those already in Places – aging in one’s own home with the support of the community village movement. This poignant post would make a great addition to their recruiting materials.

    http://villagesnw.org/

    The Place my grandmother ended up in had a few resident cats – that made me happy.

    Like

  7. kalilily Says:

    One of my best friends, who always has several rescue cats living with her, has set up a trust fund for their care when she dies. Several years ago, she took in two elder cats who had been left (with a trust fund) by a women who had passed away. My friend has a limited income but a boundless heart. She took in the two old cats and they now have a loving home for the rest of their lives. The nursing home where I volunteered for a while has several resident cats who roam the building freely, visiting those who welcome them. There are also several therapy dogs who come to visit the residents. It’s really nice.

    Like

  8. Sue Says:

    When I was doing elder care work, one of my clients, Ruby, had a dog, Fritz.. we called him Fritzer… When it was decided it was better that Ruby live in an assisted living situation, we were lucky to find a facility that allowed pets!!! Plenty of the people were able to walk their own dogs, but when the time came, there were dog walkers one could hire….

    Like


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