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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas to all, and hope to see you next year!

Obviously this post owes credit to Clement Moore's famous work.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the hospital,
few creatures were stirring, as the population was little
Two rodents were present to provide some care.
in the hopes their love would limit despair.

The children were nestled in their beds
trepidation and sadness in their heads.
Gopher and Squirrel formed a loving band,
as they knew a large task was at hand.

Down the hall there was not much chatter,
the rodents took to the rooms to bring what matters.
Love and comfort was what they could bestow,
a moment of peace to ease the worries in tow.

Giving love and time like only an animal can do,
they made the bald ones, the quiet ones, the families go “Woo hoo.”
For in those few moments their world was at ease,
as in the furs of the rodents they found some peace.

Three hours had passed in such a flash,
their jobs were done and they were able to dash.
Home they went with but one wish,
that next year you will join them in this niche.

For many are needed to provide some care,
and wonders await for those who dare.
For in the moments you will find,
truths about yourself to which you were blind.

“Now Rover! Now Snoopy!
Now, Lassie and Sassy!
On, Spot! On, Chase!
On, Lucky and Tigger!
To the top of training!
To the top of the class!
The world needs you now.
Now dash away! Dash away!
Dash away all!”

Now the year is coming to an end,
resolutions made you may bend.
But make this one to yourself,

“Next year my friend, will be a healing elf”


Happy Holidays to all best wishes in the New Year!

With Love,

Chad, Carla and The Brothers Rodent!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Gopher and Squirrel's Southern Belle and Knitters/Crocheters we need you again!

Personal information obtained on therapy visits is confidential. When applicable the name/location/sex/condition of persons visited may be changed to protect privacy. However, the interactions, conversations are true and did occur as written. 

Gopher, Squirrel, Chad, and Carla are all volunteers. They do not officially represent any institution that may be mentioned.

On a string of recent visits Gopher and Squirrel each had the opportunity to visit with a young girl. At an age where traditionally she would be preparing for a Cotillion given her creole history she was instead laying in a hospital bed. She was able to experience a number of firsts which we discussed, the first time seeing snow, the first time experiencing the cold in the way we have cold in Minnesota, the first time spending a holiday hundreds of miles from home.

Some of these firsts you may be thinking don't sound too grand, however as she described each one she would remove any hint of negativity and focus on the first as if it was an adventure awaiting her discovery.

Our first visit we would find her on a main floor, having traveled in the hopes of finding the right physician to aid her with her particular malady. Surrounded by her family, immediate and extended they cooed over Gopher and were amazed by his behavior. The room as is typical had been quiet when we arrived, but was now bustling with stories of dogs they have owned and their silly antics. Times past when all were feeling better. Gopher all the time on the bed with a blanket under him to protect the bed stretched out and enjoying all of the hands scratching him, his read gently resting on the abdomen of his patient. Their excitement over our visit prompted me to ask Carla and Squirrel if they could visit prior to leaving the floor. We left her with a Cuddle Cap provided by our readers and supporters, and she put it on her head and beamed with pride.

On our next visit Carla and Squirrel would find her room first. She had enjoyed her visit and when she found me on another part of the floor ushered me over as our little Belle has asked for us. She was noticeable weaker, but her conversations were just as animated and excited about some of the new things she had seen since our last visit. She sat up and before I could get the blanket to protect the bed she had invited him up on the bed, he laid down and resumed his position of last time, gently laying on his side, head resting gently on her and his brown eyes looking at her. We visited for a while and then as she seemed to be finished with our visit she thanked us as we left and asked us to make sure to tell Squirrel thank you as well.

Our third visit Carla and Squirrel would once again come to her room first and invite us over as requested. We found he quite a bit weaker and she spoke softly, but the light remained in her eyes and it danced as I put Gopher in a chair near her bed so she could reach him. Our visit was more subdued than the first two. She spent most of the time gently stroking Gopher's chest and whispering to him. After a bit she said she wasn't feeling well and wanted her dad, we called to the family who had been huddled in the back of the room and he came over. Once he sat down we went to leave. She sat up for a moment, "Gopher, I still have your hat you gave me." she smiled and laid back down. Her grandmother walked me out and asked me when we would be back, I told her that we would be there on Thanksgiving Day. She smiled and said "Good, the whole family will be here and I know they want to meet Gopher and Squirrel. Please make sure you come by and see us."

When we arrived on Thanksgiving we had to do our rounds a bit differently. Some of the floors we visit were also going to be visited by a special group of people who make and serve a home cooked meal for the families and patients unable to make it home. We made our rounds and on each floor we kept a watch out for our Southern Belle. She was nowhere to be found. Carla and I returned to each of the nursing stations to inquire about the patient and her family who had asked about a visit. She was unable to be located on any of the floors we visit, there is however one floor that we are unable to visit and not knowing her malady could have placed her on that floor on that day.

When we returned we made a point of keeping on the lookout to for her and her family, but once again came up short. There are several possibilities besides the one you may fear the most. Her time needed at the hospital may have come to an end, or very possibly she could have returned to extended family housing nearby as she no longer needed 24 hour care. No matter what we may never see her again, but know how much we were able to help bring a smile even if for a short time.

Our stock is getting very low!!

Last year The Brothers Rodents started asking for chemo caps and scarves to give out to the kids we visit. The response was overwhelming and we cannot thank all of you enough. Now almost a year later we have handed out almost every single piece and expect to run out when we visit on Christmas Eve. So once again we have to ask for your help! Thanks to you we have been able to give out over 150 pieces to the kids and we want to keep going. For more info on this project please go to Calling all Knitters and Crocheters.

Not crafty and want to help? We have been able to make six kits for those who have wanted to help, but did not have the means. Each kit includes 2 skeins of yarn, one purple, one green, two way postage and a special thank you from the Brothers Rodent and costs just under $10. Brothers Rodents Cuddle Caps

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Do NOT read this, look up!

Do not read this, do not take the time away from the person you are sitting with, have a conversation a smile and a laugh, you will learn more from that than the meanderings of this stranger.

The gift of time is one of the best ways of giving, whether that be volunteer time to your favorite charity or time spent with a stranger who then becomes a friend. While working with a therapy animal, the animal itself, Gopher in my case, provides a medical effect that is just coming into its full understanding and smiles and stories that I have shared before. Perhaps one of the most important parts of this equation is time. This week I learned of the death of a wise and learned friend. I would always know her as an elder, one of those people our society is too quick to discard and fail to recognize the importance of, thus bringing about this blog entry. This is not going to be a tale of how wonderfully a therapy dog performs, and the impact on a patient, instead it is going to be a soap box on which I will stand for a few minutes. If you have read this far you may choose not to go further, you may discard it, and that would be fine. It is the thoughts and feelings of this 33 year old white male, who has lived a fortunate life, bore witness to a great surge in technology, great tragedies of a society, and great accomplishments, who despite my age still tries to marvel and wonder about the world around me with the eyes of a child. This wonder of the world was something I shared with my departed friend who still had it despite her years of life and has served me as an inspiration to not be jaded and look with wonder of the world I am part of no matter how fleeting time may be.

Technology despite all its advances, and ability to connect oneself with the most obscure story from the other side of the world and allows me to stand on my proverbial soap box is also a source of limitations. Feel free to put the phrase 'back in my day' at any point you feel it is appropriate. Pause and think about it, if you are reading this outside of your home pause and look up. How many people do you see whose faces are glistened by the light of a glowing screen? How many couples, friends, colleagues are sitting in near silence observing the light emitting from their hands and not the light of the smile in the faces around them? In seeing the latest trending article and learning about the world miles away how much of the world are they missing right in front of them? How much knowledge is being lost in the pursuit of knowledge, entertainment or the latest celebrity scandal?

The questions I ask, may or may not get you to look up, but the world you are missing is so much more than what is captivating you in the moment. We are a culture of people who live in a fast paced environment we fail to see the forest for the trees and focus on the destination and forget the journey and other cliches you can add in here. Despite the fact they are cliches should not take away from their intent and meaning.

What has the gift of time has given me, a chance to learn the gift of time has been more for me than it has ever been for the person I have given the time to. Call me selfish I am, in this I thirst for knowledge and in the books I have read or diploma and degrees conferred upon me I learned nothing in comparison to what I have learned through the conversation with those around me. Strangers, friends or family have taught me more than memorized formulas, scientific calculations and even the arts could begin to teach me. In order to learn from this gift to yourself you have to be open, you have to listen and you must be able to reflect on those conversations even when you do not like the reflection.

Many years ago as a server working my way through college, I started a conversation with a woman who had come into the restaurant as a guest with friends and slowly those friends stop coming as they passed or age had taken away their ability to have freedom to go to lunch. I have never had any issue in speaking with an elder, even as a kid, my family always encouraged this and respect for elders in our society. I took this from childhood conversations with Mr. Woodworth on a bench when I as not more than 5 years old with me as an adult. In this case the conversations involved with a woman who merely wanted company while at lunch evolved into a wonderful friendship and great impact on my life, now all that remains is the memories of our conversations and being in her presence.

Our society is constantly changing and even different than it was a decade ago, a short time frame but an immense amount of change. Sometimes our elder members hold on to a hate or prejudice not acceptable by today's standards, but even conversations with people who feel this way holds a lesson for yourself. If you take the time, and have respectful conversations despite your differences you may learn of what propagated their hate, and how you may proceed in life and avoid those pitfalls. Embrace this look up and do not discard them.

Through time I have had the opportunity to learn via friends and first hand accounts of the conflict in Israel and Palestine by two people on differing sides of the issue sitting at the same table and having a conversation.

I have learned with time and conversations those around me traditions of countless cultures, differences in political opinions and social thoughts. All lessons independent of age, creed and prescribed race.

Through volunteering with Gopher I have had the opportunity to sit with many patients late in their life and have learned many lessons and the one consistent lesson, I wish I had more time to spend with this person, or that person or with my dog, my cat, I wish I had more time to show them how much I love them and how much they meant to me. The desire to spend time with a fellow human being is consistent and I have yet to hear one person tell me I wish I had more time with a glowing screen, the latest product, more time with the person in front of them.

My soap box has ended and I hope that you have not read this far, I hope you looked up, smiled and started a conversation, and started to learn. If you have read this far stop now, and look up in honor of my friend and for yourself.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Rooms with a View: Revisited

Long time readers know that we actually have two dogs working as therapy animals. The vast majority of articles here on the blog our based on experiences I have had with Gopher. My wife's dog is Squirrel and together we go to visit hospitals, splitting the floors and covering the entirety of their Animal Assisted Activities approved floors.

Carla and myself are also fans of the old sitcom "Frasier" and no we will not apologize for our taste in television. One of our favorite episodes is from the shows 10th season titled "Rooms with a View". In the episode we see our fictional characters sharing their various visits to the same hospital over the years while they wait for news on Nile's surgical procedure. It is a great episode and you should check it out.

Many people approach the hospital with trepidation and fear, we go in with smiles looking forward to another great set of experiences while working with our boys. Unlike "Frasier" our stories are not works of fiction, but all true. We go from room to room to find a vast array of patients going through a just as wide range of emotions, we never know what we will find when we knock on a door.

Don't judge a book

Gopher and I knock on the door and are greeted by a rather gruff, deep voice. "What" he yelled out, "Excuse me sir, would you like a visit with Gopher the therapy dog?" "Dog?" he responded. "Yes sir, we are here for a visit with you if you would like.". "Bring him in".

We enter the room to see a very large, muscular man sitting in the chair by his bed. He is covered in tattoos, his head is shave and he has a large handlebar mustache.

"Good evening, sir..." I get cut off and before I know it this large man has scooped Gopher up with one arm. At first Gopher gives me a look, then settles in burying his head on the mans chest while he begins to sob.

Nothing else is said for several moments and Gopher gets in deep. The man continues to sob, but the starts to speak to Gopher while stroking him and clutching him to his chest. "Tomorrow they are going to fix my heart, boy, but I think you beat them to it. "

Across the language divide

Squirrel and I walked into a room where 3/4 couldn't speak English.The granddaughter in the room translated for the older couple but it was not needed.  

The looks on their faces transcended language.
The grandmother scooped Squirrel up off his front paws by the chest and hugged him and tried to put him in her lap.  I went in to distract, and make sure Squirrel was uncomfortable but my dog just looked at me and so "don't worry about this I got it" and proceeded to be hug and petted repeatedly by this very lovely women.  He ate it up! The family did as well.

Just lie with me a minute    

Gopher and I went into the room and were greeted by the beaming smile of a middle aged woman. 

"Would you like to visit with Gopher for a bit?"

"Yes, please"

We went further in the room and she began to pet Gopher, and we visited for a few moments.

"Could he lay with me for a bit?"

"Yes, just let me grab a sheet."

I lay down the barrier and Gopher climbs gently up on the bed and slides down along her body to ensure no space is left unfilled between the two of them.

She lowers her head to his and kisses him and says to Gopher. "Thank you, I am just so lonely, I don't understand as my family was just here, but I feel alone. Something about you makes me feel better, can you just lie with me for a minute or two, I know other people need you too."

She went on petting Gopher for several minutes, but then started to doze off, and we excused ourselves to let her rest.


Squirrel and I were asked to visit a room we knew was off limits, despite being on a regular floor we saw the sign limiting contact. We are not typically allowed to visit Contact precaution rooms but as I was leaving a wing a woman asked me if we had visited her mother in the area we just left.

I didn't think so so she took us back to her room. When I noticed why and explained hospital policy to her she understood but asked the nearby nurse anyway to see if their was anything we could do.  

The nurse was understood the need and gave us instructions to walk a few feet into the room but no further. 

Once the patient saw us she cried.  It was hard for both her and Squirrel to not be right next to each other but both behaved.  Squirrel wagged his tale in anticipation at her from across the room which made her happy. We all chatted for a few minutes, and through tears she said good bye, but was happy to get to see him even if she was not able to touch him.

Hate to be alone...

Squirrel and I knocked on the door, and entered the room as is protocol.

"Would you like to visit with Squirrel?"

"Yes, I hate being alone." she cried.

Squirrel and I walked up to the bed and she pat him gently a couple of times and talked to me about he life and her family and why she wished they were with her.  All through tears.  

It was one of those instances where I was doing the therapy more than Squirrel.  He was there to assist but what she really wanted was someone to talk to. Squirrel acted more as my therapist so I could help her.  It was a team effort. 

Greek to me

Gopher and I didn't even have a chance to knock.

"Yes, yes" and ushered us in her room with her hand,

No one else was in the room and the lights were dim. Gopher walked right up and she began petting him. He leaned in tighter to the bed. "" she uttered in a thick Greek accent. She smiled at me with a tear in her eye and kept petting Gopher. He lifted his chin so she could  get his chest, where the therapy comes from is what we call this move.

Several minutes passed, "Thank you.....lungs no work, happy to again." Her DNR bracelet became more visible through Gophers fur where she was still petting him and Gopher tried to get even closer. She smiled, "Thank you.....go now....more people....need you."

Not the paws, well for you maybe

Squirrel hates having his feet handled, while he will tolerate grooming he does not do "paw" work. He doesn
t offers his paw, no shake nothing.

However if you are an ill little girl with some finger nail polish doesn't suddenly he doesn't mind. We were able to meet her several times in her extended stay.  He walked away from a couple of visits with either black or glittery toes.  His paycheck for the torture was using most of her bed to sleep on while she did it.  I think he took advantage of the pillow a couple of times too.

Just like my grandsons dog, but not as obnoxious

"Would you like to visit with Gopher?"

"Oh, yes"

She pets Gopher as soon as he gets to the bed and then stops.

"He's so beautiful and so calm, my grandson has one of these, and she is not, she is obnoxious."

"Yes", I reply "Gopher is working now, so he is really calm, he loves his job, but as soon as it is over he is a typical Golden Retriever"

"But is he obnoxious"

"Well, I don't think so, but some people may disagree"

"Can you come train my grandson?"

Because I'm dying?

Their was one woman that was so excited to see Squirrel that when she patted the bed he instantly jumped into it like it was an invitation. He was too quick for me to stop him!  He is well aware of his rights and limitations when it comes to visiting patients and he also knows when to through all of that out the window and do the job he knows needs to be done.  

The patient became very concerned when I told her he doesn't usually do that.  Her first concern was that he was paying special attention to her because she was dying.  I said "No, he just knows a person who needs a hug when he sees it".  

He proceeded to lay next to her in bed for awhile while she pet him.  I left the visit when Squirrel was getting so comfortable he was taking up most of the bed.


Every time we visit it is a cluster of these stories, brief windows into the lives of strangers. We never know what the impact we have is for the long run, it could merely be a nice story told to friends once or twice over dinner or it could impact their lives in way we will never understand. Often we get questions: This is great, can I do this? How long does it take to train? Do you have to be a certain age? How much are you required to visit? Do you think I could do this with my dog? We answer the questions, and always hope that they may follow through, create their own stories. It is the same mission with the blog is that we hope one person who reads it may go, yes this is something I can do and want to do with my dog. Working with a therapy dog is not a grand gesture, it is simple and holds infinite possibilities for providing small impacts. 

This week, we lost a great comedian, actor and philanthropist whom I was a great fan of his work. Mr. Williams would often quote Mother Teresa in interviews and in his work "We can do no great things, only small things with great love." 

While reflecting on the public persona that brought me so much joy, and his final act I was reminded of one of my great friends, a man who I love greatly and have great admiration. He had the opportunity to happen upon a young woman who was facing a similar final act. When he saw her, he embraced her in a bear hug, for what must have felt like an eternity until help would arrive. She is alive today, because he stopped. I wonder if presented with a similar circumstance if I would have done the same thing or would I have not been able to believe my eyes and just put my head down, not wanting to get involved. 

We, as a society tend to put our heads down, avert our eyes. The gesture itself was not grand, it was simply a bear hug, a few moments when he looked up and saw something and acted. So that is my challenge for anyone who may read this, look up, do something small it may be just taking the trash out for the elderly neighbor, it need not be grand as you will never know how large an impact a small gesture may have on  those around us. 

Our world is scary at times, there is bad in the world and we get caught up in the negativity get to a point we cannot handle it anymore and hang out heads and close our eyes, but look up, see the simple acts and together all of these simple acts will make the world a better place to live, you never know when you will provide the 'bear hug' someone else needs at just the right time.

I leave you with "Do it anyway" written by Mother Teresa. Take care of yourselves.

"Do it Anyway" 

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.
-Mother Teresa

Saturday, March 8, 2014

10,000 Visitors!! Thank You!!

Yesterday we passed a milestone with our 10,000th visitor!!!

When we started this on January 24th, 2011 we never expected to have such success and such a following. We are all truly humbled by the support, the messages, the comments we have been left from right here in Minnesota and all over the world.

Our goal was really simple. When we started training Gopher we read everything we could find on therapy dogs. The majority of the volumes dealt with training and a few precious gems actually discussed the experience, they however quickly shifted to discussions of healthcare in America, or how we treat our senior citizens. While these are important topics, we wanted to hear more about the experiences on this side of the leash.

It was our hope that if we put this out there we could help a few potential new therapy animal handlers in understanding the experience and maybe help increase the understanding of what a therapy animal does, and some insight to the human and non-human animal bond.

We hope we have succeeded in doing this and look forward to continuing!

We are thankful everyday for the opportunity to spend over 2,000 hours collectively with 100's patients, students and families. 

The first story of a dog doing therapy work comes to us from Catholicism, and the story of Saint Roch (circa 1348- circa 1379).  It is humbling to be a part of such a long history, and be part of the 1,000's of registered therapy animals around the world.

For our fans, if you would like to send us a message or leave a comment with your favorite story from Gopher Sessions please do and we will update you as best as we can on the people involved, and where the patient is today.

Thank you again, and hug your dog!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Nausea? The Brothers Rodent can help with that.....

Personal information obtained on therapy visits is confidential. When applicable the name/location/sex/condition of persons visited may be changed to protect privacy. However, the interactions, conversations are true and did occur as written. 

Gopher, Squirrel, Chad, and Carla are all volunteers. They do not officially represent any institution that may be mentioned.

The whole family had the pleasure of being called to a young girl in need. It is not the first time we have been asked to do this, but thankfully it will be one of the last. It was her last treatment after a long and difficult year. She was however having some issues with the last treatment and was checking back into the hospital once again. 

Gopher and Squirrel were very excited to return to see one of their favorite patients. Both up in the bed taking up more room than they should. Squirrel settled in quickly and cuddled into her while she struggled against her upset stomach.

Gopher, had another plan in place. He was excited to see one of his favorite kids, but this visit seemed a little different. He shifted his focus to her mom. Even though the patient he was called to tend to was not feeling well, he felt mom needed him more and showed her his undivided attention.

The last year had taken quite the toll on her, her baby was seriously ill. She had been hundreds of miles from home, the rest of her family and her supportive community. The road had been long and as it was coming to an end, there they were once again in the hospital. She was ready to go home, ready to start moving forward and pleased that her little one had beaten the odds. We had gotten to know her quite well in our visits and this was the first time Gopher had become so focused on her.

As we visited it became ever more clear how much the events of the day had rattled her. The fatigue and stress was more noticeable than it had been. Gopher cuddled in and she started rough housing with him, and he played back. Soon she began to laugh and smile and make jokes. Her shoulders relaxed and she seemed to accept this final hurdle with perseverance that has allowed her to get through the last year.

We continued our visit. Gopher went back to help Squirrel cuddle our young patient while staying close to mom. After some time it was time to leave and we said our good byes.

We do not know if we will get the chance to see the young patient and her mother again, as they were nearing the end of their time here, and were looking to a bright future. I know that although we only did get to know them for a short time, all of our visits with them will last with us for the rest of our lives. It is not often that you get to spend even a short time with someone with so much bravery, strength, positivity in the face of seemingly unsurmountable difficulties, compassion in the body of a feisty, stubborn and strong willed little girl.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Saying Goodbye....

Personal information obtained on therapy visits is confidential. When applicable the name/location/sex/condition of persons visited may be changed to protect privacy. However, the interactions, conversations are true and did occur as written. 

Gopher, Chad, and Carla are all volunteers. They do not officially represent any institution that may be mentioned.

Saying goodbye is always tough, but this time it was especially hard. Gopher and I had been visiting her every other week for 1 year, 9 months and 2 weeks when we had to bid adieu. She had been among the first of our patients in hospice volunteering, and we never missed an opportunity to spend time with her. Gopher would get excited at the mention of he name and whimper as we turned the corners nearing her home. She was one of his favorites.

Saying goodbye was especially hard because she had not been renewed for hospice services, she was still ill, and still suffered from her disease, it will be the disease that will end her life. However after many months she had not continued to decline naturally she had plateaued, thus was no longer eligible for the care that hospice provides. It is uncommon, but does happen that a person can graduate hospice. This is indeed joyful news as she will continue her time on Earth and have more memories with family and friends.

I am not a friend though, I am a Volunteer Professional Caregiver and so is Gopher so as the service is removed, I must also stop my visits. We had to bid farewell.

I knew this was to be the last visit for a few days and as I knocked on the door, Gopher sitting obediently at my side with tail wagging hard in anticipation I had to remind myself, just breathe.

The door opened and I was greeted by her husband a warm smile on his face and his attention quickly turned to Gopher. "What, why are you here, we don't like dogs here", he joked as he reached down and gave Gopher a scratch at the ear.

We walk into the house and settle into our place. Gopher gets up in his chair and leans in for the pets and the treats he is about to receive.

We talk about the good news, graduating from hospice, and what it means. They ask me a few times if there is any way I can continue to visit. 

Just breathe, Chad, breathe.

"Unfortunately no, I am unable to continue visiting as Gopher and I have to visit as part of a service and since the hospice services are being removed I am unable to continue visits."

Breathe, pet Gopher, and look away so the tears that have started to form cannot be seen.

They say they understand, we continue our visit. 

Our patient leans into Gopher, "Gopher I am going to miss you, you are such a good friend Gopher, I love you." Tears are dripping down her face and the leash grows tighter in my hand as Gopher leans in closer to her. She buries her head in his fur and once again his coat absorbs more tears. It is unimaginable how many tears have been dried by that golden fur.

I get closer, pet Gopher while looking out the window so that the family could not see my own tears. 

Gopher and I present her with a prayer shawl as a memento and get up to leave for the last time, at least for now. I remind them that should services be necessary again to ask for Gopher and I.
I shake her hand, "Thank you, it has been an honor to be here."  I shake hands and say goodbye to the rest of the family. Then hurriedly rush to the door as I feel the tears welling up and do not want to let them see me lose my composure.

This was not what I had signed up for when I joined hospice, an started working with the family and patient. Gopher and I were supposed to be there to help support in any way we could until the inevitable end, but we had no end. Our patient was still ill, still suffering, and still wanted to see Gopher, but we could no longer visit. It feels as if we left with our job unfinished.

In the time leading up to our last visit and even as I write this I still struggle with our goodbye. We were not done, we had committed to be with the family and the patient until the end, and the end had not arrived, but we are no longer in service. It was possible for us to continue visiting her, she had become so special to us and it was tempting. However to do this I would have had to move past the caregiver relationship to that of a friend, I would have also had to take a leave of absence from the hospice program, and stopped visiting our other patients. Being raised on Star Trek, this seemed wrong as "The need of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one." It was logic that made me say goodbye, so that I could continue to visit the other patients who had grown to love and need Gopher as well.

It is a perfectly logical decision and the right one, if only logic would fix my heart. 

Live long and prosper. 

Thank You!! Thank you!! Thank you!!

We cannot say it enough all of the wonderful hats, scarves and letters of support. Here is just a sampling of some of the wonderful items we have received to date!

They are all so beautiful and putting the smiles on faces!!

Thank you, and those who have sent so far we will be getting thank you's out soon!

Coming Attractions:

Saying Goodbye: "The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few or the one" This important lesson from my Star Trek upbringing comes to play as Gopher and I say goodbye to a hospice patient who is removed from services.

Upset Tummy: Gopher and Squirrel pay a special visit to a young girl who is having nausea with her latest chemo treatment.

That is all for now. Sorry to be distant of late, but stay tuned for the upcoming entries.

Love and peace to all of you from the Rodent Household.