Rosey is my constant companion. I have traumatic brain injury from a childhood concussion, and I don’t tolerate standard psych meds at all. Rosey helps me live life without them and has taught me to love more in the process.
But as much as Rosey has helped me, I feel like he has had had a more profound impact on others.
A month after I started bringing Rosey to work with me at Doug’s House — an AIDS hospice in Austin, TX — there was a man with AIDS who recently had a section of his colon removed and had a fistula in his groin. He was very depressed and was at the hospice to die.
Even though he could walk, he never left his room. His viral load and white blood cell count were not too bad but they weren’t great either. The nurse and his doctors were encouraging him to take his HIV meds, but he didn’t want to take medication for anything; he didn’t see the point.
I am required by law to offer medication if there’s a doctor’s order for them. For a couple weeks, I would go into his room and offer meds and he would refuse them. Sometimes Rosey would come in the room with me, and he would ask me to let Rosey stay.
One day I came in to offer meds and jokingly said to him, “Rosey thinks you should take the meds.” He kind of smiled and shook his head.
Rosey started going into this guy’s room on his own after that. When I would go in there, Rosey would be in bed with him and the man would be gently petting him.
Three weeks later I got a surprise. I went to offer the man his meds and to ask him if he wanted to talk to his doctor about discontinuing his medication — I could tell he was starting to get annoyed with me offering — and he said he would start taking them if he could keep Rosey. I told him that as long as he was here at the facility he could have as much of Rosey as he wanted.
Flash forward two months: The man leaves his room on a regular basis, he starts socializing with the staff and other residents, and he and Rosey are best friends. Rosey has a way of making that happen.
The man confided in me later that he was ready to die when he first came to the hospice and was considering how to kill himself. He said to me, point blank: “Rosey saved my life, and I’m not just saying that.” He said that Rosey coming into his room gave him something to live for and to love; Rosey made him reevaluate his circumstances.
The man is now healthy, working, and actively engaged with his community, and he has a dog of his own.
There are many other stories about Rosey at the hospice, but that one is the one that made me realize that he had something special.