It was one of those perfect days for Casper. He was brushed and shiny, ready for visits. He knew that the human was unaware of her extra passenger as they arrived at the nursing home, but he himself was very aware of Radar’s presence.
“Behave yourself here!” Casper growled to his companion.
“Not too worry…I know my place,” Radar replied.
They went to the sun room first to see who was there waiting for them. His mistress often would let Casper choose who to greet first. He spotted an old friend in the corner looking out the window at the snow, and decided to start with her. He sat down beside Mrs. Cleaves, and waited for her to acknowledge him. She was staring at the world beyond the window, lost in thought. Casper wondered if she knew he was there, so he gently put his head on her knee. Without a word, she lifted her hand, and stroked his soft silky ear. In the four years he had been coming to see her, Mrs. Cleaves had never spoken a word. She would just ever so gently rub his ears, and continue to look off at the world.
Radar seemed to have found himself a perch on the bench seat at the piano. He was observing this transaction between the dog and the elderly lady.
“Mrs Cleaves. Nice to see you today.” His mistress spoke softly to the lady. “Are you dreaming of your youth? I bet you used to love to play in the snow as a child!”
No response. Not even a twitch. Still, the elderly woman continued to stroke Casper’s ear. Casper stayed with her for a long time before his mistress led him to another person. He was petted and loved up. Everyone wanted to give him a treat. He liked the way their hands felt on his fur and the softness of their voices. Casper would catch a glimpse of Radar out of the corner of his eye now and then. The white dog watched carefully as if assessing everything that Casper did.
“Meg, we have a new patient we were hoping you and Casper could visit.” One of the staff spoke to his mistress.
“Of course.” His mistress picked up Casper’s leash. “It’s always such a pleasure to meet new patients.”
“This one…Mr. Hastings .. ” The nurse broke off. “Has never been in a facility like ours, and he is not very happy.”
“I see.” Meg answered, “So you want Casper to warm him up?”
“If he can thaw this one, he will be a miracle on four paws!” The nurse chuckled. She led them down a side corridor to where the suites were.
The door was open, and Casper pulled on his leash to go in. A look passed between the two humans, and Casper knew he was allowed to proceed. The elderly man sat on the side of the bed, his head in his hands. Casper approached him softly and slowly. Sitting in front of him, he nudged the man with his head till the old man looked up, and met the dog’s eyes. The silent exchange between the man and the dog was magical. It was as if someone had lit a fire in a hearth. Mr. Hastings’ hands shook as he reached to touch the beautiful golden fur, and a soft smile turned up the corners of his mouth.
“Who let you in here?” He asked the dog. “Do you have a room too?”
“Mr. Hastings, this is Casper and his owner, Meg Sinclair. They visit us twice a week” The nurse spoke and pointed to Casper and his human.
“Well, you are a treasure! Aren’t you?” He smoothed the dogs fur back, and took a clear look at Casper’s eyes. “I can see from those eyes, my friend, that you are a deep thinker.”
“Would you like to be added to their visitation list?” The nurse asked.
“I won’t be here next week,” Mr Hastings grumbled at her, his hands never letting go of Casper’s fur. “I won’t stay here.” He told the old dog.
Casper noted out of the corner of his eye that Radar was sitting on the floor by the window, watching. It was as if he was making mental notes.
In the car on the ride home, Casper lay on the back seat. Radar was perched on the back window area, chatting to him.
“So you go and visit those people and give them comfort?” He said. “They can’t give you cookies or treats…. so what is in it for you?”
“Satisfaction,” Casper yawned.
“Hmmmm!’ Radar seemed to be sorting this in his mind. “You are a complex fellow. I think I need some more time to figure you out.”
“I haven’t figured out why you are here yet either,” Casper yawned again.
“That my friend is a secret…..” Radar answered, and disappeared.