Today was special for Myles. He’s been visiting patients for about four years at the same place, every week. Puppy Prozac is what he’s called and the only time he was “off duty” was for a few months this year with a foot injury. He is getting older so we spend more time on the floor rolling around rather than chasing tennis balls up and down hallways.
He’s big for a Border collie – big boned – a gentle giant. Hips are giving way a bit so jumping up is not welcome, although he does try. I was laughing with some of the patients today about how we used to spend an hour with him waking everyone up. No one could stay in their hospital rooms with Myles barking and running after the ball – especially when we purposely slammed them into doors. I remember being in the elevator and a nurse on the floor beneath the behavioral health unit joined us. She asked if we could ever come downstairs because they can hear us having so much fun. “Fun!” she said. Who would have thought FUN was part of a mental health ward? It is though. Even with the slower pace. Even with the focus on eating treats and getting his hair brushed, it is still fun. People are still smiling when he shows up and the one’s who weren’t are smiling when we leave.
It’s a labor of love really, for him and for me. It is past time to get his brother involved. Buddy can do the jumping and running. He’s lighter and younger. He’s not quite as tender as Myles, well, tender in a different way. Myles is really the dog for anyone dealing with mental illness. He somehow knows how to lift people out of their depression or anxiety even for a moment. He certainly has done this for me many times.
And so, it was terrific today to walk into the hospital and receive a note with thank you’s for his time. He was happy for the extra treats but this made me proud.
Volunteering is an act of service. It is something you show up for week after week, month after month, year after year because you have an abundance of energy best spent on helping someone or something else.
Thanks MedWest. We’ve had a great time and we’ll see you again next Friday.