Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Time to come up for some air. It's very strange to have been suddenly let off the leash; 24/7 patient care forces you to accommodate to all sorts of personal restrictions, you get used to them, and, when they are removed (especially as you seek new gigs and digs), it's pretty disorienting. I still have a gigantic sleep debt, for example, and I have needed to make up at least a small part of that if I am going to run around like a maniac in the next few weeks, taking care of business.

Before all of that fascinating stuff gets fully underway, however, I have to pay tribute to my partner, the doggie who was here when I arrived, who became an ever more adept therapist, companion and friend throughout my tenure. I posted about him last year, and everything I said then is still true. I can happily add that he's gained new respect from his titular owners in the meantime. He's still stuck with the ridiculous name - Noodles - (where the hell did that come from? The DeNiro character in Once Upon a Time in America? I don't think so...) - but he will always be my Noodley.

As our patient got weaker and weaker, he became ever more attentive, warming her body, giving her morning kisses. He couldn't spend nights with her, but he spent most of every day, and after she died last Friday, he would run downstairs and post himself under her (now empty) hospital bed, or take a post at the front door, under the misapprehension that she was out for a clinic visit. Neither of us could immediately persuade ourselves that she was gone. When the baby-monitor was still plugged in and active, both of us leapt to attention if we heard a Val sound - "Let's go help Mom!" I'd say to him and we'd be off. Ten seconds and we'd be there. This past weekend I kept thinking I'd heard her, when that was impossible. He knew better, but he'd cock his head, anyway, when I'd turn mine, and he probably sensed when she intruded in my dreams, too.

He's been my buffer and teammate - a surrogate for the kind of emotional attachment with my patient that would have endlessly complicated doing my job. I cannot overvalue his contributions, or recommend highly enough the services of an intelligent, loyal, sensitive animal as a caregiving helper. So this is for Noodley. He's fully worthy of the Gromit pic, above.

[We watched Curse of the Were-Rabbit last weekend, and enjoyed it immensely!]


madamerouge said...

I'm all misty-eyed now.

Lance Mannion said...

Truly, a hero of a dog, like Gromit.

On a more cheerful note, I'm glad Wallace and Gromit took home the Oscar last night, although they didn't have any real competition. Gromit is the greatest movie hero since Indiana Jones.

Harry Potter comes out on DVD tomorrow.

blue girl said...

Aw, grisha. Life is something, isn't it?

The Uncanny Canadian said...

Never underestimate the intuitive power of a dog. They have forged a millenia-long bond with people, and communicate so effectively with us in the complete absence of language. I respect dogs so much. They exhibit all of these wonderful traits like loyalty, intelligence, affection, and compassion, and really need so little in return. It was very touching to hear about the bond you developed with old Noodley there. Keep your spirits up Grisha!