Who Let the Dogs In?

too young to vote

Last night Rainier and I resumed volunteer work.  The last time we visited a hospital was four years ago, and after last night, I am sorry that we allowed such a gap in time.  Through the Animal Medical Center, (where Rainier our Swiss Mountain Dog has an open line of credit) we visited Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island.

This was my first time on Roosevelt Island since it open thirty some odd years ago.  And that visit was on the  tram.  This time we drove through Long Island City across a darkened unnamed bridge into the sulfur lit canyon of buildings.  It’s simply the dark, urban step-child of the hometown featured in the Truman Show.   We parked in the empty doctor’s lot, stopped to pee on multiple trees (just the dog, thank you) and headed inside.

In the lobby we met three other volunteers and dogs, checked in at security and began the long walk to the recreation room/ gym where a group of patients was to meet us.  I must say the hospital was very clean and well-lit.  The cheerful staff greeted us as our pack wandered the halls.  Our destination was a cavernous gym, lined with hospital beds (empty) used for some kind of training.  The beds bore incomprehensible labels and various pieces of medical mannequins in various stages of distress.  A great audience.

Our group of about 20 or so patients came and went over the hour we visited.  Half were in wheelchairs and seemed delighted to meet Rainier, a dog big enough to reach their faces for a quick friendly sniff.  They were more delighted once I started passing out dog treats to hold my 12o pound companion’s adoring gaze.

An elderly man sat in a chair and imagined that he could feel the dogs licking his feet through his shoes.

A large young woman flip-flopped: scared, then excited and then scared, then excited for about a half an hour before she let Rainier close enough to fall in love.

A wizened vet in a wheelchair knew how to protect the bologna and mozzarella sandwich he transported on the back of his chair in a double knapsack.

We go back in a month.

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