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  • Writer's pictureDianne Hammontree



Happiness is a dominant emotion for both Grace and I when we are at a nursing home, strange as that sounds and strange as it was. We didn’t go there to be happy any more than we did to learn about hope or fortitude or to think about courage and faith--- but that’s what happened. This day we were blessed with tremendous leadership and a devoted staff.

When Grace is at “work,” she brings a lightness and easiness that seems to expand outward and encompasses almost everyone she encounters. We often talk about getting out of our comfort zone, but Grace does not see a debilitating illness or lack of privacy or bodily fluids, so she just jumps into anyone’s comfort zone. Which happened!

A dog and her human are like a pair of dance partners, able to anticipate each other’s moves and read body language, and pick up on the most subtle cues.

We found the room of a lovely lady, whom we will call Ruth. Her nurse and family member said that Ruth had been unresponsive for four days. They assumed she was ready to meet Jesus. I picked up Grace and gently laid her on the bed close to Ruth. Nothing. Not even a flutter of her closed eyelids. Then I took Ruth’s arm out from under the sheet and blanket and placed her hand on Grace’s chest. Ruth’s eyes shot open, bright, and clear and happy and she said, “Hey, Hey!” Then one second later her eyes closed. Unresponsive again.

Nothing in my life had prepared me for this simple act. What was I supposed to do? I spoke with the nurse and family member, “Did you see what I just saw?” It seemed that Ruth just saw heaven and not us.” Let’s try this again; the same thing happened. Every time I moved her hand on Grace— “Hey, Hey” with eyes open and joyful. Well, this went a few more times and all three of us in the room were laughing and crying for Ruth.

I put Ruth’s arm back under the covers, kissed her forehead, picked up Grace and headed down the hallway for a few more pets for Grace. Ruth did go see Jesus about eight hours later. What Grace could do, and I could not, was to meet Ruth exactly where she was: disabled, mute, frail, lonely and tired. She met her without a moment’s hesitation, and this was a gift.

When we got home, Grace got into her bed, curled herself into a tight ball, braiding leg over leg and stayed there, not asleep but not stirring either. She was spent.

Charity is what we can give one another. Don’t be afraid. Just do it!


Dianne Hammontree, secretary of Homeward Bound Dog Shelter.

The Grand Opening of the new dog shelter is on September 11 at 4:00 p.m.


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