“My family won’t believe I am touching a dog”

Edith and Kirby are quite a team

Edith and Kirby are quite a team

Edith looks like she is dressed to go to work or a party.

Her hair is styled. Her nails are painted.

She is wearing glittering earrings.

She is impeccable.

And she has the warmest smile.

But she gets no further than the lobby.

The lobby of Chancellor Gardens of the Lakes in Las Vegas, a long-term care facility for people with dementia.

The first time Kirby and I visited Chancellor we saw Edith in the lobby. She was sitting all by herself in the corner.

She looked more like she was there visiting someone else rather than the one being visited.

She gave a small smile but was not too thrilled to have a dog that near.

“I’m really not a dog person,” she said as we came closer.

But Kirby was riding in his stroller and she could not resist asking “Why would a dog ride in a buggy?”

“Well, he doesn’t see very well and his hips don’t work very well so this is his way to get around like your wheelchair – these are his wheels.”

I asked Edith if she would like to pet Kirby and she nodded very slightly. I brought him closer and she put a gentle hand on his soft fur.”My family will never believe I am touching a dog,” she squealed.

We started chatting and she kept stroking Kirby. She was in no hurry to give him back to me. For a non-dog person she had all the right instincts. She cuddled him, she held him gently, she talked to him, and she looked right into his eyes.

“How old is Kirby?”

“About ten, no one really knows.”

“Well he is more like a little baby.”

The next few visits, Edith came right up to us and wanted to hold Kirby and hear how he was feeling. She rarely remembered his name and repeatedly asked how old he is, but she always remembered that she liked him and that he loved her.