Wonder Dog Reminds Me What’s Important

Some days, amid the stress and demands of caregiving, I get so overwhelmed that I forget about the important things.

Fortunately, life has a way of jerking me back into focus.

One day not too long ago, my Dad had an endoscopy, which consumed a big chunk of his – and my – time. I took him to the medical center, waited nervously while the procedure took place, then, relieved he was okay, brought him home. Next on the agenda was a grooming appointment for Jackson, our family dog who had moved into the senior community with my parents last year.  I took our beloved pet to the mobile groomer and was surprised by how well he behaved, which was not the case the previous time. I guess Jackson, like all of us, is getting used to our new routines.

Meanwhile, all day long, I’d been frantically getting work done on the fly – whenever and wherever I could.  I was sitting at my parents’ kitchen table frenetically clicking away on my laptop, when I felt a sudden jolt. I literally felt my body jerk me out of my stressed-out mental haze and back into the present moment. I had the clear sense there was something I needed to do.

I looked out the window, noticed it was starting to get dusky and realized that we hadn’t walked Jackson yet.  The little guy had been so good for the groomer that I felt he deserved a long walk before it got completely dark. So Dad and I grabbed the leash and off we went.

 During the past year in their new home, Dad and Jackson have developed a regular walking and visiting routine.  As they stroll around the complex, Dad stops to chat with his neighbors about their health, their kids and, this time of year, the hot weather.   (At 8 p.m. in Phoenix, it’s still over 100 degrees!) Jackson exchanges sniffs and kisses with the other dogs. I love joining them on their evening meet-and-greet; it gives me such a wonderful sense of community.

But tonight that feeling of community was especially important.

As we rounded the corner into the large courtyard, Jackson started pulling  in the opposite direction. I tried to give the firm “no” that our trainer taught us, but he wouldn’t have it. He was intensely focused on something in the distance. This was clearly a dog with a mission.

Finally, I looked in the direction of his insistent pull and saw a man lying on the ground. His walker had toppled over and was several feet away from him – out of reach.

My Dad and I would never have seen the man if it hadn’t been for Jackson.  Our wonder dog was determined to help that man out.

I alerted the security guard, and we waited with the gentleman until the emergency squad came. He was upset, a bit confused and wasn’t sure how he fell or how long he’d been there. But we introduced him to Jackson, who snuggled up to him.  Petting the dog seemed to help the man calm down.

You’d better believe someone got extra treats when we returned to the apartment!

Jackson, thanks for waking me up out of my stressed-out haze to remember the really important things in life.

Nothing like being in the right place at the right time.