I have been known to indulge my inner Grinch during the holiday season. I guess you could call it my inner kvetch during Chanukah. And yes, I still binge watch Hallmark Channel movies as an antidote. But I’m afraid I may have weakened. I was about to put up a post that had absolutely nothing to do with this time of year. Then I realized I’d be sharing it on Christmas and I caved.
In retrospect I should have saved the post about caroling at UCLA or the one about the Adopt a Family program at Providence Hospital. Unfortunately, I didn’t think that far ahead. Instead I want to share a day with the Doods that for me epitomizes what this season should be about.
On Thursday morning we went to the Adult Health Center. There was a Christmas tree and there were some decorations but nothing brightened up the large room like Elbee and Gus. It didn’t matter if the participants were old or young, suffering from bipolar disorder or depression, so many just wanted to pet the dogs or hug them. A few followed us around.
An elderly woman who seemed distracted suddenly focused and told me they made her so happy. Another whispered in Spanish that they were angels.
I also found out that the quiet man who smiled for the first time in a year when he was with the dogs a few weeks ago, only smiles when they’re visiting.
After leaving the center, we drove over to see my dear friend Roberta, the one who has been battling brain cancer. She is a warrior if ever I’ve seen one. Never a complainer, she admitted how rough the treatment has been. After we chatted for awhile, the Doods took over. They love her and she loves them. I know she sneaks them treats whenever I’m not looking. For a brief time they make her forget about everything except them.
On the way home, with my two exhausted dogs in the car, it struck me just how many gifts they had given. Every single one was unselfish and priceless.
The next morning at a yoga class, Rebecca, the teacher, suggested dedicating our practice to some purpose or intent. Surprisingly, the first thought that came into my head was family and not dogs so I was kind of torn.
Then Rebecca suggested focusing on gratitude and it made perfect sense. I apologize for any cliches or repetition but hey where’s your holiday spirit?
Working with the dogs, especially during this season, has taught me to be grateful. Seeing so many people who are slowed down by illness or injury, I feel fortunate to have my health. I am appreciative that I can write these posts even when I struggle. And yes, I truly am grateful for my family and friends.