You can imagine her galloping through lush green pastures dotted with wild flowers, pulling a small cart filled with canisters of warm, full-fat milk for jolly, smiling, be-pig-tailed children to gulp down before grabbing their satchels and heading across the alps to school.
Or something like that.
She’s a beautiful, big, furry dog; more of a rug than a dog. She is very nice to hug. It is very nice to hug a big furry, rug-like dog. Very therapeutic and with that in mind, today I took Hayley to visit Dad, who has moderate dementia and living in a wonderful homely place where he has good care and lots of friends.
Dad was looking at a pamphlet, a something about an Indian music festival. He’s never had any interest in Indian music, but with his illness, all sorts of things now take his fancy.
The sudden appearance of an enormous hound of the mountains did not deter him from his perusal of said pamphlet and I spent quite a bit of time during our visit patting Hayley myself.
Dad isn’t great at conversation. He’s lost quite a bit of that part of the brain which enables him to understand what people are saying to him and to find the words to respond. At least, that seems to be what’s happening. He speaks using real words, all the nouns and verbs are in the right places, it’s not gobbledy gook. It just doesn’t make sense in the context of the conversation.
That doesn’t mean we don’t communicate. It’s just different now.
We communicate through experience. Going for a walk, looking at the leaves changing colours, watching some construction workers, smiling at babies in prams, folding napkins, and yes, patting dogs.
Dad finished with his pamphlet and handed to me. He suddenly seemed to notice that the big furry rug at his feet was moving, apparently standing up and ramming its head into his lap.
“Oh, yes I see you, I see you” Dad said as he stroked her broad head, fringed with silky tufts. He chuckled softly.
Dad loves dogs. He always has, but now he has a different kind of affinity with them. Small children too. Neither dogs nor small children are bothered by Dad’s odd sentences. His inability to communicate verbally doesn’t trouble them. They’re all quite content just to be together.
Hayley makes me happy too. I’m just taking care of her for a few weeks and it will be sad to say goodbye. I shall miss the morning hugs only a big furry rug-like dog can give.