Dr. Jules, my co-therapist of the canine persuasion, continues to make appearances at my office. His heart pounds so during the car ride, I’m not sure if it’s in his best interest to go. But once his curly poodle ears hear “going to work,” he hobbles to the door and stands at the ready, wanting me to pick him up and take him along.
His clients need him, he tells me.
He’s been blind for many years. Now he’s a bit lame. No one knows how old he is. His loves his life. He especially loves his work.
He is slowing down, it’s true.
Some days, it’s all he can do to give a good greeting to our clients, before a deep nap overtakes him.
Today, he was at the top of his game, making a major fuss at each client’s entrance, vocalizing with chimpanzee-like noises, his little stick-tail wagging like a metronome gone ballistic, making his people laugh.
Then, as we sit down to talk, he settles down with mature dignity at his client’s feet, with his back toward his client in that stance that means “trust” in the dog world, and he makes no more fuss, allowing the humans to talk, sensing that his participation in the conversation is on pause for now.
He’s a professional, after all. He teaches by example: balance, self-confidence, love of life–no-matter-what.
At times he stretches out on the carpet, arching his back and reaching north and south with his front and back paws, as if saying, “If you’re talking about relaxation techniques, check this out.”
And then he falls asleep.
Maybe his nap demonstration is therapeutic, too. He is modeling deep relaxation. Or maybe he is ready to retire?
But when his client rises to leave, Jules is up and attentive again, wagging his tail, making his quiet little fuss. “You’re wonderful,” he says. “Please stay. Please come back soon. Take my blessing with you. You’re wonderful.”