Once a week, I stop by my post office box to pick up my mail. This week, there was a lovely purple envelope in my box. All I can say is that it was a good idea I didn't open that envelope until I got home. Crying in the parking lot of the post office is probably frowned upon by somebody!
The envelope contained a card from a woman I've never met. She is the daughter of someone I've spoken to a number of times over the last year. I keep a phone log of everyone I talk to, along with a summary of what we discuss so that if they call again, I'll know what we covered in our previous conversation. I've had many conversations with pet owners over the years that rarely turned into anything beyond just that...a conversation. This woman's mother had written down her conversations with me in her journal. You see, what I didn't know was that she had terminal cancer. Thanks to COVID-19, she'd been basically living alone with her elderly dog, having supplies delivered, and visiting virtually with her daughter who lived out of state. I knew about the elderly dog and the daughter out of state, and we'd talked about keeping her elderly dog active and engaged when they couldn't leave their house. We'd talked about how she could keep busy as well. At some point, we even talked about my grandmother as that was written in her journal, though I hadn't noted it in my own call summary! I had never charged this woman for my time as it always felt different talking to her. She sounded lonely to me and I really wanted both her and her elderly dog to know that there were people out there willing to listen and help. Turns out, I was one of the few people this woman trusted and her conversations with me were cherished. I truly had no idea. So, why am I telling you this?
I'm telling you this so you'll stop for just a moment today and reach out to someone you know. Maybe they live alone, maybe their kids live far away, or maybe they are just someone you know casually from Facebook, church, school, etc. I'm asking you to reach out because you don't know what that person is going through. Maybe they need to hear a friendly voice, a funny story, or share something that their dog or cat did that made them smile. We have to be here for one another, now more than ever. If there is one thing that this pandemic has taught me it's that we need to be here for each other. We may not be able to hug one another, but we can sure as heck take the time to listen. Taking the time to listen to this woman had made all the difference in the world to her quality of life. Those aren't my words, those are the words her daughter wrote in her note to me. She said each of the journal entries following my calls with her mother said how much her mother appreciated my kindness, taking time out of my busy day to listen to a "rambling old lady," and how I'd made her smile and laugh as she learned something about elderly dogs and their behavior.
I've updated my phone log summary to reflect the fact that this owner has passed away. Her elderly dog will be going to live with the daughter for whatever time they have left together. She says she knows what to do for the dog since it's all outlined in the journal with comments like "Julie said..." right next to them. That made me smile. Her mother had listened to me too. She had validated what I do. She had reinforced that I help people just as much as I help their pets.
I'm going to keep this card as a reminder of why it's important to make my call backs every single day, even when *I* don't really feel like talking. Because now I know, the person I am calling may be waiting on me to do so and I may be the only person they hear from on that day.
As always, if you have questions about your pet's behavior, you know where to find me.