This story started in the Lobby of a local hospital as Tilda and I were handing out some doggy calendars to her friends as she was pictured as Miss February and we were so excited about that fact. It was around the first week of December, 2010. There were quite a few people that gathered around having a good time looking at the calendars and talking up a storm with lots of laughing and ooohs and aaahs while looking at all the dogs in the calendar. After a few minutes a dear old friend walked up to me (I will call her Lucy) who works in one of the Doctor’s offices in the complex. Lucy asked me what was going on and another lady nearby showed her the calendar and we all had a great chuckle. Lucy then leaned over and whispered in my ear “I think it is imperative that you come visit with a patient and his wife at our office”. I told Lucy “of course, right now or at a later time”. She said “right now”. I excused myself from the gathering and Lucy, Tilda and I began walking briskly towards Lucy’s office.
While walking Lucy explained that a 40+ young man was just examined and they found cancerous tumors all over inside of his mouth. She stated the man was in a shocked state of mind and his wife was dreadfully sad and it might be that Tilda could bring a bit of a break to their grief. As we walked, I noticed Tilda was not walking her normal meander gait which is always a half leash behind me. She was walking between us with a purposeful gait and it caught my attention that she was walking as if she knew she had work to do and was needed.
We got to the office. Lucy took us back to the patient exam rooms, walked us in where the young couple was and she introduced me and Tilda to the couple. The lady was distraught and standing next to her husband who was sitting in a rather high exam chair. The man was sort of “out of it” as if his mind was somewhere else and our presence didn’t impress him much I could tell. Tilda was straight in front of his chair several feet away. I addressed the couple by saying “Hello, my name is Daryl and this is Tilda, a Therapy Dog here at the hospital. Would you like a visit from Tilda?”. Well, Tilda is keen to those words after all these months of saying them. Before I could do anything with Tilda, she sat down and was very erect with both ears perked up high as she quickly and nervously scooted towards the man’s knees which in the tall chair were about the height of Tilda’s head while she was sitting upright. The man didn’t even look at her, he was looking down at his hands while fidgeting with his fingers. Tilda was looking directly at the man’s eyes as she took one last scoot while at the same time raising up on her back legs just enough to allow her front right leg to raise high in the air and she gave the man’s left knee a brisk swat with her paw as if to get his attention. The man had jeans on so I wasn’t concerned. The wife looked at me with a smile with tears flowing and I could tell she was about to say something so I put my index finger on my lips as if to quietly say “shhhh” as I knew then that something was about to happen. I let Tilda’s leash drop to the floor as I knew she was on a mission of some sort and trusted she could handle it. All of a sudden that little white and skinny tail of Tilda’s began rapidly wagging back and forth across the floor as she still was sitting upright directly in front of the man’s knees with her ears perked up as high as they ever get. Tilda then sort of repositioned herself a tiny bit nervously as the man raised his head to look at Tilda. At that very moment, Tilda raised up on her back legs, stood tall while both of her front legs went high in the air and came down slapping the man on both knees like she was saying “listen up, you”. In that position, Tilda leaned her nose into the man and he finally leaned over and petted her head with both hands and kissed Tilda on the nose. Tilda immediately began incessantly smelling the gentleman’s mouth back and forth, back and forth several times. Right at that moment, Tilda pulled back just a bit, finally lowered her ears and then began licking the gentleman’s hands which were now laying in his lap. Tilda’s back legs were beginning to shake a bit from standing so long so I grabbed the leash and told her “Thank You, Tilda” and she sat back down and was just looking straight into the man’s eyes with the tail wagging again and ears down.
The wife witnessed all this also and then whispered to me “What was that?”. I said “I don’t know. I have seen her do these things and when I see it coming I just stand back.” The lady then knelled down and gave Tilda a bunch of hugs and Tilda then paid attention to the lady for the first time. I thanked the couple for their time and the man thanked me and said “That is a very special dog. It is as if she can see right through and make things better for just a moment”. I excused ourselves from the room and we left the offices.
Tilda was really dragging herself while walking back to the lobby. I had to stop a couple times as she just could not keep up. We were only half done on our rounds that day at this point but I already knew Tilda was done for the day. I found a soft chair in the lobby while Tilda lay in front of me on the floor. She rested probably 10 minutes or so and I could tell by her eyes that she was really, really tired. I told her “let’s just head for the truck and we’ll go home now” and that is what we did. She literally collapsed in the truck and slept all the way home.