residents share a special kind of Charm with those in Need
Let me tell you â€¦ these
girls know how to "work" a room. Each time they make an
entrance, a spark is ignited. All eyes are immediately drawn to the
beauty of these girls, which is an undeniable component of their
unique charm. Each is the photo negative of the other. One is dark,
the other light. One has short-sleek hair; the other, long wavy
witty conversations or politically correct speeches issue from these
girls; instead there is just unadulterated charm. It is more than
enough. Their eventual sashay out the door is proof of this, as
their sudden absence leaves a void. For hours afterward, though,
tiny sparks of radiance linger in the air reminiscent of a snow globe
recently shaken which settles its diamond glitter onto the stillness
of a winter scene.
The "girls" are a
team of therapy dogs owned by two Hebron families. The dogs, and
their handlers, are graduates of the Allan's
Angels therapy dog certification program
which is sponsored by the Bolton Veterinary
Hospital and the Connecticut Chapter of
Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dogs. The
team consists of 'Molly', an utterly charming eight-year old
chocolate lab and 'Summer', a four-year old flirtatious golden
retriever. The girls and their handlers travel from Hebron to a
healthcare facility in Manchester on the first Tuesday of each month
to visit with the residents.
and her owner Lucy Jolie have been visiting this particular facility
for more than three years. It is Lucy's unwavering devotion to the
residents of this facility that earned them their well-deserved
celebrity status. Lucy's gregarious personality and her dedication
to philanthropy have led her to reach out to those in need not only
through the therapy dogs but also by feeding the homeless at the
House of Bread and most recently as a member of the Board of
Directors of My Sister's Place, Inc. It was Lucy's spirited
talks that convinced the writer of this article to join her and Molly
on their monthly visits.
As a small town, Hebron
embraces the concept of reaching out to neighbors in need.
Traditions such as the annual Hebron Lions Fair are long standing
hallmarks of this town. Visits to local nursing homes with therapy
dogs carries on that wonderful tradition.
the dogs have boundless energy, once they slip into the harnesses
which identify them as working dogs, they understand that it is time
to get to work. An immediate transformation brings about a singular
focus on their responsibilities of bringing comfort, affection and
love to complete strangers, one paw at a time.
Although the visits are
often heart-wrenching, one evening this past March, on the coldest of
nights, two special moments occurred which illuminate our reasons for
returning to the facility each month.
The first moment occurred
while the dogs were visiting one of the large common rooms where most
residents were sitting together on comfortable couches. A frail
woman sat in a corner of the room, lost in her own world. She would
occasionally look toward someone as if to communicate, but only a
repetitive cadence left her lips; over and over she repeated the same
undecipherable tones. Summer carefully padded over to this woman.
She slowly settled herself into a sitting position while focusing
purposefully on this gentle woman's face. Moments passed
imperceptibly as the dear lady focused on the pair of liquid brown
eyes before her. Her repetitive cadence slowed to a quiet silence â€¦.
I was entranced as I was privileged to witness her spirit finding its
way back to the surface. Unexpectedly she said in a clear, youthful
voice, "You â€¦ areâ€¦ theâ€¦ mostâ€¦ beautifulâ€¦ dog".
Reaching toward Summer, she rested her forehead softly on top of
Summer's head and cradled the dog's soft ears. For those few
moments, pure sunshine infused the air. Then, the moment was gone.
What stirs this writer's heart is that no matter how short it was,
the moment DID happen for this gentle lady.
The second extraordinary
moment involved Molly, who is without doubt the absolute apple of one
elegant gentleman's eye. As we approached Joseph's* room,
Molly's excitement level kicked into high gear and she practically
galloped down the hall. You see, Molly knew that Joseph awaited his
usual private audience with her and she was eager to comply. When
Molly entered his room, her quiet demeanor was cast aside for
puppy-like enthusiasm. Belly scratching, paw high-fives and messy
dog kisses were the new focus in Joseph's universe. For their
special time together, there was no sickness or loneliness in his
room while Molly ruled his heart. These are the moments that bring
Therapy Dog owners the greatest reward: the secret smiles and the
ethereal wisps of remembered joys.
on their instincts, the dogs know when the moments end and it is time
to head home. Their tails whisper on the walls on the way out,
reassuring the residents that they will be back. You see, Molly and
Summer are a team. Two dogs, two hearts, one goal: sharing a
glimpse of Heaven on Earth with those who are most in need.
fictitious name is used to protect the privacy of the patient;
Kathy/Chris Hendrickson are also certified handlers through Allan's