Remembering 100 Year old Sally & Frankie the Therapy Dog Visits with Her

sally and FrankieSally was one of my favorite residents at Libby’s House, Senior Assisted Living Facility. For three years, once a month, I’d take Frankie there as she was a certified therapy dog, and she would work her magic with the residents.

I remember being so nervous the first few times I visited. Many residents have Alzheimer’s or dementia. While I had experience around dementia because my grandma had it in later years, I’d never been around anyone with Alzheimer’s.

While not everyone at Libby’s House was challenged with either of these diseases, I didn’t know Sally’s situation as I wasn’t allowed due to the HIPPA Act. But meeting her and being with her the first few visits put me at ease. She was such a delight!

She couldn’t speak- well, I should say, not that you could understand. It was as if her brain had scrambled her words and it came out in gibberish fashion. But could she carry on a conversation! I would smile and nod as she always became quite animated and talkative when she would see Frankie roll into the main living room of Libby’s House.

The only word I could understand that she would say was the word little. She’d say it over and over again when Frankie came to visit. I assumed it was because Frankie was so small. She’d also clap her hands and begin what almost seemed like the sweetest chant, with her eyes fully lit up as she’d repeat, “little, little, little.”

On one visit a few months months after we’d been going on a regular basis, clear as a bell she said “Frankie!” The RN and I looked at each other and were in awe she said Frankie’s name. It is a moment I cherish in my heart.

Sally was always smiling when we visited. Always. During the last few months before I retired Frankie, Sally began singing. Again, you couldn’t understand the words, but she knew what she was signing. It’s as if she was a beautiful bird singing her own special tune.

Though I didn’t always know many personal things about the residents, I did know that Sally never had children. In many ways, I felt a special kinship with her being I never had kids. I’d often find myself looking at her wondering if this will be me someday. And if so, I hope I have the amazing, happy spirit that she had every time I saw her.

I didn’t learn of Sally’s passing until yesterday. It just so happens that John is doing work on Sally’s niece’s house, who adored her aunt Sally. She told John that Sally had passed away in early May and had celebrated her 100th birthday recently. While going through Sally’s things she came across a photo of Frankie I’d given Sally.

My eyes filled with tears as John relayed the story to me. For a moment sadness because I was truly fond of Sally. But then happiness for the sweet memories I have of her. How honored I feel to have been part of her life for such a short time.

I felt the need to know more about Sally and found her obituary on line. She died on the afternoon of May 4th. I thought about where I was that day. I was at Bookworm Gardens with Gidget to kick off their 4th season, hanging out around Frankie’s spot within the gardens that carries on her legacy.

I would also discover that Sally was her nickname, but her real name was Selma. She was married for nearly 70 years to Elmer. Now can’t you just picture the sweetest little couple named Elmer and Sally? Elmer passed away in 2004 leaving Sally a widow at 90 years old.

There was a gallery of photos with the obituary and what a treat it was to see Sally in her younger years, up until her 100th birthday. It gave me a sneak peek into the life of someone who touched my heart for what was truly just a short blip in time of her long life.

I find myself feeling a deeper kinship with Sally after reading about her life, married all those years, and Elmer dying only ten years before. Will this be John and me, I wonder?

At the end of her obituary it read: “Sally will always be remembered as a kind and gentle soul that exuded a zest for life.”

This was indeed the Sally I came to know. What a beautiful legacy. Simply beautiful.

Oh little dachshund paws, how far have you traveled?

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I think I love little dachshund paws and butt’s just about as much as I love their petite, sweet faces.

Capturing this shot of Gidget’s perfectly sized paws had me thinking about where they may have all been.

That’s the thing when adopting a dog from a rescue situation. You may not know what roads they’ve traveled to get to their destination.

Do they know where they are heading? Do they know where they want to end up? Did Gidget seek me out? Was it meant to be?

In many ways I do feel it was fate that we were brought together. I felt this intense pull toward Gidget when I first saw her photo.

I couldn’t say exactly why, but I felt this calling in my heart that was so strong. Her eyes reached into my soul as if to say, “I’ve traveled many paths with my final destination as you.”

So maybe I’m projecting a bit into this. Maybe not. But there is no denying there was something in my soul that spoke to me about her.

Every time I hear the clickety-clack of her nails on our hardwood maple floors, my heart gushes with love for her. She makes our house a home.

No matter where those tiny paws have been before of which I do not know, I’m so grateful they took a turn and headed down the path to me.

And I promise you, little sweet paws attached to the softest, hot-dog shaped body, and big spirit of a personality, who I fondly call my Little G, you can remain planted firmly in this place that is now your forever home.

Heart Somersaults.

g enjoying the sun eI took this photo this past weekend. As I planted annuals and perennials, my garden fairy, a.k.a Gidget, was always close by.

Yesterday on my blog, I asked the question if pets grieve the loss of another pet. Many responded they felt that they do. I shared the post on Facebook also, where many chimed in. Thank you to everyone who shared stories and their thoughts on a topic that is clearly of interest.

I’m still pondering the question, to which there will likely never be a definitive answer — though I find myself leaning toward feeling that they don’t grieve as we do — not that they don’t feel or notice something has changed — but that they just go through it differently than we do, and perhaps some not at all. I would be curious an animal communicator view of this, and perhaps it can be something I discuss with my animal communicator friend at some point.

But this also got me to thinking about my own grief. It’s been six months since I adopted Gidget. Nine months since I said goodbye to Joie and almost two years since Frankie has been gone.

Grief which can be very personal and so deeply intense for we beings called human, but when joy finds you once again in the form of the love of another dog, I find myself in awe of how we always seem to make the transition.

I also know that some don’t or won’t. The loss too great to consider what it could mean for their heart to open up again and let in the love of another dog.

But this weekend, as Gidget spent much time with me outdoors, I felt my heart doing somersaults over and over again each time I glanced her way. You know, those feelings that all of a sudden come over you that are so magical and joyful that you feel as if you might squeal out loud?

I found myself once again grateful to have found the courage to open my heart again to the love of another dog. Each one, in their own unique and special way has taught me things I don’t think I would have otherwise learned. Each one with a special mission to be a part of my life. To bring me a new joy. To become a part of who I am.