Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Kleenex Queen as therapy dog

(Originally published December 17, 2007)

Allie and I are just back from a weekend visit to my parents, who live a little north of Philadelphia. My mom and dad are in their 80's, and are increasingly frail -- especially my dad. They still live independently, but the everyday details of independent living are becoming more and more daunting for them. One thing about them hasn't changed with age, though: they adore dogs. But for the past five years, they haven't had one; they both feel that they can't take proper care of a dog any longer.

So when Allie and I make our monthly journey northward, my parents can get their dog fix. They get to pet and cuddle with their big golden grand-dog without having to worry about when to feed her or take her out. They can laugh at her antics -- especially her ability to ferret out any and all tissues/paper towels/paper napkins from end-tables, wastebaskets and elsewhere, which is why we call her the Kleenex Queen -- without having to deal with any repercussions from those antics. And I love how gentle the often-rambunctious Kleenex Queen is around my dad, who's not all that steady on his feet these days.

To me, my parents epitomize responsible dog people -- by, paradoxically, choosing not to have a dog at all.

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