Season’s Greetings

1 Dec

As we pass into December, thoughts turn to Christmas and decorations come out, a tree goes up and the efforts of volunteers over the past year are celebrated at the hospice.  This season for most of us is a happy time spent with family and friends.  It is a time to reflect on the year gone by and to lay plans for the coming one.

For some patients and their families in the hospice, this holiday season will be indelibly marked by sadness.  Future Christmases will be remembered as the time a loved one died and forever more will be absent from family celebrations.  Yet many residents in the hospice embrace the opportunity to focus on the happy vibe that runs through the medical staff.  There is a special energy at this time of year and it feels good for some patients to participate actively; to focus on living, not dying.

Abby, my therapy dog, was a Christmas puppy and I remember her arrival to our home eleven years go.  We had taken several visits out to the breeder’s farm and were able to meet her father , a red poodle and her mum, a grey cockapoo cross.  They were both very calm with good social skills and full of energy.  As a family, we agreed on which puppy we wanted and when the day came to pick her up and take her home, we were vibrating with excitement.  Many professionals counsel against adding a puppy to the family at Christmas time on the grounds that there is too much going on, too much activity, too many strangers and thus too little focus on ensuring the proper training and socialization of the puppy.  For us, the opposite was true.  As the children were home from school and I was on holiday from work, we had scads of time to focus on Abby and develop consistent rules, boundaries and limitations.  With everyone at home she was able to bond with her pack and when visitors came to the house, we were able to ensure the greetings were appropriate, controlled and positive.  With four pairs of eyes on her during her waking hours, house training went quickly with few lapses.  It was also so incredibly cute to see her peering out from under the Christmas tree as she explored her new world.

Christmas Eve that year had us all reflecting on her Christmas stocking.  We assigned to Abby the stocking her predecessor Lily, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, had used for the previous six years.  As is the case for too many Cavs, Lily died from the inherited heart defect so common in the breed.   So it was with a mix of sadness and joy that we set out Abby’s stocking for Santa’s attentions.

This season Abby will be wearing a Christmas bow to the hospice and will bring smiles, joy and love to all.  May your holiday season be filled with the same.

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