A great article written by Jeanne Dennis, entitled “Pets and Hospice Care: The Warmth of Touch,” for the Huffington Post (12/31/11) reminded me of how much Nanny grew to love having my pup, Izzie, and my sister’s dog, Lola, around as her health declined.

While she had never really been all that fond of our pups before her illness, Nan found more and more comfort in their company after her stroke.

Always looking out for her visitors, Nan insisted that we keep lollipops on hand in case a child of one of the nurses came to say hi–and when our four-legged family members stopped by, there was no exception.

“Give the baby a cookie,” she’d say, pointing to Iz and referring to the box of shortbread biscuits that she kept in her room.  Needless to say, Izzie lovvved visiting Nan!

Seemingly underwhelmed the pup’s interest in her at first, Nanny came to enjoy the attention and took to holding the “baby” on her lap, gently running her hands through Izzie’s fur.

When Nanny came to our house for brunch on the weekends, Izzie quickly took on the role of “clean up crew,” waiting next to the wheelchair for crumbs to hit the floor.

Izzie rarely left her bedside after we moved Nanny home for hospice. She would whine to get into bed with Nanny, then sleep curled up next to her, giving her kisses, while trying to score a snack at meal time. As much as we held Nan’s hand, massaged, and embraced her, there was something special that the pups gave her.

The article (above) talks about pets and the power of touch–and it’s true:  the tactile sensation of their warmth, tender kisses, and soft fluffy fur were increasingly what Nanny enjoyed and needed.

Lola and Izzie were both were amazing sources of humor, love, and companionship to us all, at a time when we so greatly needed it.  I’ve heard that pets instinctively know when someone is ill or dying; whether or not that was true, Izzie and Lola played an integral and special part in our care-giving experience.