The Suitcase Lady


February 20, 2008, 1:31 am

I knew something was terribly wrong when I saw the front door.

A small 9x12 sign was posted on the entrance to my aunt’s assisted living home. The sign featured a photo of a happy dog and the message, “Please be careful when coming in and out of our building. We have a new house dog, Buddy. We don’t want him to get out. Thank you.”

I visit my aunt every month so I know that Buddy is Judy’s dog. Meeting Judy in her wheelchair with Buddy trotting along beside on his leash was always a lovely experience.

The lady at the front desk confirmed my fear; Judy had died unexpectedly. Then the receptionist told me to peer over the counter. Buddy was curled up asleep, beside her feet on the office floor.

My aunt filled me in on the rest of the story. Buddy was taken home by a family member, but he wasn’t doing well at all. He refused to eat or play.

Phone calls were made, and Buddy was invited back to his old, familiar home. Except now he doesn’t stay in one apartment; he has the run of the place and sixty-two happy residents who are thrilled to have him back.

I must report that one resident is not at all pleased with Buddy’s new status. Max, the longtime house cat, now has to share, a concept which is alien to felines. However, I did observe Max curled up in front of the fireplace, the choicest location. Apparently, Max will maintain his alpha status.

A slight panic did occur last week when Buddy went AWOL. A massive search was launched until Buddy was found. He had been visiting in one of the apartments, and the resident accidentally locked him in when she went on a casino field trip.

I searched for a year before I found this home for my aunt. She and I agree it is a truly caring place. To paraphrase Gandhi, a society can be judged on how it cares for its animals.

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