On this day, the nursing home residents would hear Teddy before they saw him.
He was all decked out in Christmas bells, a Santa suit and his red Therapy Dogs International bandana.
The 3-year old Bernese Mountain Dog jingled his way down the halls, wagging his big fluffy tail whenever someone would look his way.
We have become familiar faces at the nursing home, visiting residents every Tuesday morning.
A second encounter, a second chance
We were just wrapping up our weekly visit with the second floor residents when a woman in a wheelchair rolled out of her room and down the hall.
She stopped at the nursing station directly before us.
I recognized her immediately when she turned around.
She had told me on a previous visit a couple of weeks back she was afraid of dogs. You could see her obvious fear that day.
But this time as she looked straight at Teddy decked out in his bright red suit, there was a different look in her eye.
“I am afraid of dogs, but I think I would like to pet him.”
An age-old fear melts away
Teddy seemed to know. He looked at her with soft and kind eyes.
Generally, Teddy is very exuberant, his tail wagging his whole body, but this time he sat very still, close to her wheelchair — a perfect gentleman.
She patted his head and moved her hand down his neck again and again.
It was clearly a breakthrough for the woman.
The more I thought about what was happening, the closer I was to bursting into tears. Her age-old fear was melting away.
“Would you like us to come visit again next week?”
She smiled and said yes.
Pride … and a happy tear
Teddy and I turned towards the elevator. My eyes were moist. What a remarkable moment we just had. I’ve never been more proud of Teddy.
I reached down, gave him a hug and said the words I know he understands.
“Good dog, Teddy. Good dog.”