Mar 24th 2008

Izzy and Lenore, Barb and Caleb

Posted in Barb, Caleb, Izzy, Lenore

March 24, 2008 -  We started the day in Granville, spend several hours in the Adirondacks seeing Hospice patients. Long days for the dogs.
Izzy and Lenore continue to develop very different styles in Hospice work. Izzy approaches the patient head on, eyes-on-eyes, Lenore loves physical contact, sits still in  laps, lies down on people’s feet. Both elicit different responses. Izzy soothes, Lenore draws smiles.
Izzy’s demeanor suggests he wants to get to know you, and Lenore wants affection. The combination is effective. The dogs cheer up the families as well as the patients, and I notice they do become tired if they work too often, or stay too long. Monday was a long day for them, in the car for hours, into homes, schools, nursing homes, office buildings.
They are calm and quiet in the car, and seem to have boundless energy and affection.
Barb is a dog lover, who beams when the dogs come into the room. Izzy shook hands, above, and then Lenore lay down near Barb and Izzy went into a corner and watched.
I enjoy many things about Hospice work, one being the stories people tell me about their lives. Barb was a nurse for some years, and her husband was a fireman and she talked quietly and evocatively about “My Bill” and their life together. I think this may also become a poem. She is an avid animal lover, so I brought her the National Geographic story on animal intelligence, which we discussed on this blog. Also a picture of Rose. It’s a funny thing about pictures of Rose, but women, especially women that have worked, love seeing her, and pick up her ferocious work ethic in those eyes.
Rose knit and quilted before it became tough for her fingers. She said she would love to hear some poems and stories, and I have plenty of those. She has a dry sense of humor, and misses little. Times with her are quiet, soothing. She likes having both dogs around.
I want to work the dogs continuously, so they both become polished. Izzy is, Lenore is getting there. Barb clearly enjoys both dogs, so I will bring both to see her.
Both dogs also work for Caleb, below, a difficult challenge for Izzy and Lenore, as he is confined to a wheelchair and can only move one hand. Izzy stays near the hand, so Caleb can stroke his head, and Lenore lies still in his lab. He smiles when he sees the dogs, and nods vigorously when asked if they want to come back.
Lenore forages carefully around every inch of a room before she settles in to work. She is almost unfailingly appropriate now, approaching people gently, and doesn’t mouth anymore, as young Labs tend to do. I definitely see growing intuition in Lenore. She is clearly learning to be calm and focus around the Hospice patients.