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Wait 10 more minutes

Every Monday at 2 p.m., Beau and I go to Silver Spring Rehabilitation Center in Northeast Milwaukee for an hour of psychotherapy for elderly patients.

By KianaPublished 6 months ago 4 min read

Every Monday at 2 p.m., Beau and I go to Silver Spring Rehabilitation Center in Northeast Milwaukee for an hour of psychotherapy for elderly patients. Patients come and pat Beau as we walk down the hallway, and they all pet the 10-year-old Doberman.

The first time I went to the hospital, while I was still in the hallway, I heard the excited voice of an old man coming from Ward 112. His English had a strong German accent: "German dogs are coming, German dogs are coming!" Following the sound, a tall, wrinkled old man was standing in front of Gate 112 to greet us: "I'm Charlie, please come in." As soon as he heard Charlie's enthusiastic call, Bo immediately rubbed his leg with excitement. Charlie did not disappoint Bo at all, and kept patting it on the head. Charlie explains that he immigrated to the United States from Germany as a child, but had to leave behind his beloved "Mark," a Doberman dog that looked exactly like Bo.

The next patient was Catherine at number 114. She was in her 70s. A few months ago, she suddenly couldn't speak. She stayed motionless in her wheelchair all day, indifferent to questions from doctors and nurses. I heard that she had no friends, and her family no longer visited her. When I entered her room, I saw the curtains were closed, and the room was lit by a small lamp by the bed. Catherine was in a wheelchair, with her back to us, curled up in a bow, facing the window where the outside world could not be seen.

As soon as he entered the door, Bo couldn't wait to come to her, put his head on the old man's knee, and looked forward to the patient's caress as usual. I also pulled up a chair and sat across from Catherine and greeted her. But she didn't respond. A full 15 minutes later, she still didn't move, didn't say a word. But what surprised me even more was that Bo didn't move. He stood for a full 15 minutes, and Bo's chin never left the old man's knee from start to finish. If you know Bo's temperament as well as I do, you'll know that it's impossible for him to wait 10 seconds. It will keep arching you with its nose, it will whine and whine, it will lean against you and twist its whole body until you have to stroke it.

I asked a nurse why Catherine was so indifferent to the outside world. "We don't know, sometimes the elderly relatives ignore them and this happens. All we can do is make her last days more comfortable."

From then on, Beau and I repeated the same route every Monday: visiting Charlie at 112 and sitting with Catherine for 15 minutes at 114. We always got the same reaction: Charlie's enthusiasm and Catherine's indifference. With each visit, I tried to tease Catherine, inquire about her life, and tell her about me and Beau. But she never opened her mouth, and I became more and more discouraged. Yet for the 15 minutes of each sit-in, Beau stuck to his "post" and used the easiest way to silently love someone.

The fourth time I went to Ward 114, I was just about to give a speech in the afternoon, thinking that animal therapy wouldn't work for Catherine anyway, so why bother? So I decided to shorten the 15-minute visit to 5 minutes. After making up my mind, I didn't take the initiative to talk to her again, but focused on planning the afternoon speech. Catherine certainly wouldn't pay attention to it, let alone mind it.

Five minutes later, when I stood up to take Bo away, it didn't move. Just then, a miracle happened. Catherine's hand slowly lifted and finally stopped on Bo's head. Bo stood there like a sculpture, motionless. I sat back in my seat, speechless in surprise. For the next 10 minutes, I could feel the stream of life flowing between Bo and Catherine's hands, and I was completely intoxicated. The clock showed 2:30, and the 15-minute visit time was up, and Catherine's hand gently slipped off Bo's head and put it back on her lap.

A full 10 years have passed since that visit, and Beau left me forever 8 years ago. But whenever I lose patience, I remember how Beau's persistent love touched Katherine. If dogs could wait 10 more minutes and awaken love with patience, I believe humans should be able to do it too.

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