Seven weeks ago, I had thumb-joint replacement surgery. I knew it would include a three-month rehab period at the start. What I didn’t know was that Teddy and Sadie would be all in as caretakers.
When I arrived home from the surgery, the pups greeted me exuberantly but seemed to know that a lot of wildness would be inappropriate. They donned figurative lab coats and prepared to sit by me as I was locked in the dance of pain med, nausea, and anti-emetic drugs. They only once–well, maybe twice—showed interest in the stomach-calming pita chips. Thereafter, they kept a close watch on the chips to make sure no one took the chips, and if the patient dropped one, they immediately cleaned it up.
Teddy was all about assessment. He would frequently sniff the bandaged forearm, then give the tip of my thumb (the only part of that digit showing) a delicate little lick. I assumed that meant all was well.
Sadie’s assessment consisted of eye-bulgingly watching the grotesquely enlarged limb, making sure she did not make accidental contact.
But these two aren’t the only animal companions who have acted as practical nurses. Tigger, our Siamese cat, used to be ever-present in the sick room, and the closer to the patient, the better. If the unwell person was on their side, he was good at balancing along ribs and hip. But if you were supine, lying on your chest was even better. Looking into Tigger’s aqua-blue eyes a mere six inches from mine while his rumbling purr vibrated on my skin is a sweet memory.
And then there was Duchess, a great Dane/Doberman mix. During my first pregnancy, I was besieged by morning sickness. This sweet canine stationed herself by the bed, right next to the little table that held the saltines. One day I decided to try one of these crackers and noticed that they were wet and a bit slimy. Not only that, but the packet was close to empty. Perhaps Duchess had thought that if she ate a cracker, it would vicariously help the nausea I was experiencing. I have to say she was never greedy—just one or two saltines would do. After all, she was a duchess.
I am sure all of you who have animal companions have similar stories. As Thanksgiving approaches, I have been thinking about all the creatures who have blessed this house (some more than others). Sometimes I hear ghostly toenails clicking on the hardwood floor, and I wonder if one of them is paying us a visit. While I am so grateful for family, friends, and so much more, this year I am thinking about our animal companions—those loving and faithful creatures who sit by our beds when we are sick, make us laugh and entertain us, sit with us when we are sad, and keep us warm on cold nights.