Words We live By: Part 1: Connection

March 22, 2018


When was the last time you made a real connection with someone new? When was the last time you put down your phone, turned off the tv and really listened to what someone else had to say?  Can you remember?  I know we are all guilty of not actively participating in connecting with people.  We are very busy with our own problems and our own lives and reaching out can seem like a chore.  Sometimes I wish I was invisible so that I didn’t have to interact with people.  Then I come to work…

I discover a folder on my desk with the name of a senior that wants a visit from a therapy dog and I actually look forward to meeting someone new.  Maybe it is because I have such an affinity for the elderly.  I am not sure. What I can tell you is that every person I have visited, in the 7 years I have been working here, wants to make a connection.  They want to belong to something that is greater than the nightly news, their recliner and medicines they take.  They were once out in the world, raising families, working for a living, enjoying time with friends and now circumstances have changed.  They find themselves alone and isolated.  Their license and car have been turned in, their children now have children of their own and the world has become very small.

Connections are not hard to make if you try.  When I visit new clients I sit and listen to them.  I ask them about how they grew up, where they lived, what they liked to do in their free time.  I have learned extraordinary things about the elderly in my community.  Just this week I met a man who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease but was once a concert pianist, a singer and a music professor.  If you looked at this man you would never guess the wonderful life he had lived.  But I know because I listened and I made a connection.

So let’s go one step further beyond the human connection.  Let’s add a dog to the mix.  A therapy dog, a Caregiver Canine.

I will never underestimate the power of connection between dogs and people.  Furthermore I don’t want to understand it either.  I don’t want to conduct experiments and write dissertations on it.  I just want to live in the moment and experience a connection between two living beings that needs no coercing of any kind.  When a therapy dog enters a room of a person that loves dogs, no words need to be spoken.  It is a pure and natural connection that satisfies the soul.  There is no pretense, no judgement, no expectations.  Just a person and dog making a connection that runs deeper than any humans will ever experience.  If you have a dog you know what I am talking about you connect with your dog on a daily basis.  So I am asking that you be like the dog.  Greet new people with enthusiasm and without prejudgement.  You may discover that you are good at making connections if you just take the time to actively participate.

Thank you to all of the handlers that share their therapy dogs so that connections can be made every day.

Have a tail wagging day!