I have written more than once about how Tucker is the perfect dog, (and how he, now, even has a tag to prove it!) but the truth is, I know that, objectively, he really isn't. For one thing, the "perfect dog" is different for different people, and the very things that endear Tucker to me might be things that would bug other people. And in fact, despite his being very near to absolute perfection in my eyes, there are still things about him that I wouldn't mind changing ... his barkiness, for example. He'll quiet when I ask him to, but that doesn't stop him from being sure to let me know about every little thing that goes on in the vicinity, whether I want to know or not. If an intruder is attempting to gain access to the house, intent on theft, murder, or mayhem, then by all means please let me know. A leaf falling off a tree two blocks away is not quite so important to me. Especially when it happens at 3 am.
But barkiness notwithstanding, and despite the almost certain fact that he'll probably never rescue me from a burning building or alert anyone to the fact that I have fallen down a well, he is a darn good dog, and I honestly can't take much, if any, of the credit. True, I happen to have been around a dog or two in my time, and the lessons I'd learned, and mistakes I'd made, with previous dogs probably helped me do more things right with Tucker than I otherwise would have, but even without that I think he still would have been a great dog. So great, in fact, that I am often given cause to wonder just what kind of a moron it was who didn't recognize all the wonderful things in Tucker that I did, and do, and was stupid enough to give him up. Whoever he or she was, though, did me a HUGE favor! (Well, me, and every other person lucky enough to know him - from my family, friends, and co-workers, to the UPS and Fed Ex guys ... because whether it's due to his Muppet-like appearance, his goofy grin, his irrepressible zest for life or his heart-on-his-sleeve freewheeling affection for every man, woman, child, or animal he meets, almost without fail everyone who comes in contact with Tucker falls in love with him. He's just THAT freaking awesome!)
|My own personal angel ... can't you just imagine him with a halo?|
Which is why it makes me sad that it's taken having my grandmother in the hospital (and now in a nursing home, and probably Hospice sooner than I can really think about dealing with) to really appreciate how much good Tucker was doing as a therapy dog before we stopped going. When you see how much someone you know well and dearly love lights up at having the opportunity to hold a dog on their lap for twenty or thirty minutes, or even just see one or stroke its head, it makes you feel really crummy that you have this amazing dog who has the potential to bring a lot of joy to people who most need a helping of it and you have been too selfish to MAKE THE TIME for such important work.
After all, even though it's Tucker who's really making the magic on these visits, (my grandmother is always happy to see me, of course, but it's Tucker who has the ability to break through the pain, the fatigue, and the general malaise of being terminally ill), he can't get there on his own. It's a lot easier to make the time for these visits when it's your own much-loved family member in the bed, but everyone (hopefully) matters to someone, and if they don't, then they need those visits even more!
So at some point, Tucker & I will be back in a hospital or nursing home (or other facility in need of therapy animals) and the human will be back with a renewed commitment to doing whatever has to be done to MAKE TIME for the therapy visits to happen. Tucker's commitment, as it happens, never wavered, but unfortunately he has to depend on me to get him to "work." We'll still be concentrating on our VIP patient for the foreseeable future, but the facility where she currently is does have other patients who are happy to see Tucker also, and we are committed to making time for them as well.
It's a humbling thing when your dog is a better human being than you are.