Memories of Brutus

He came here three years ago. Brutus was rescued as a puppy and raised and trained through a program at a nearby male correctional facility. He was reddish-gold mix of beagle, golden retriever, and maybe basset hound because of his wide rib cage.

Last week Brutus, age six, had to be put to sleep.

When he arrived here, Brutus was well trained, but nursing home life confused him. He was anxious to find his place but had a few accidents before he settled down. Staff found a quiet spot under the table at the nurses' station for his bed.

At first, Brutus would bring his ball to anyone who would throw it so he could go fetch. One nurse played ball with him for several minutes and then went back to her med pass. But not every nurse had time to do that.

Brutus loved the assistant director of nursing and the receptionist. He lounged in their offices during the daytime. Every morning he was at the front door waiting for one of them to arrive. When one came through the door, Brutus would wiggle all over with happiness.

After a few months, Brutus began to bunk with a female resident, who lived alone in a semi-private room. She and Brutus got along famously. Then she moved to another facility and Brutus was crushed. After that he bunked with several more residents and got used to them coming and then leaving the facility.

Brutus liked hanging out near the dining room waiting for scraps. Since some residents fed him and others dropped food, he feasted every day for a couple of years. When he was 50 pounds overweight, the vet put him on a diet. Even though residents were told not to feed him and signs were posted everywhere, they still did. So he lost little weight.

About a year ago, Brutus was banned from the dining room at meal times. But, since he was here on weekends residents still had opportunities to feed him.

Some staff members considered taking Brutus home with them each evening for a change of scene. But there was concern he would resent coming back and being locked in here all day. I wished we had a trustworthy resident who would be willing to take Brutus on frequent walks.

Several months ago, Brutus began to limp. Near the end he was in pain and disoriented. The assistant director of nursing told us that Brutus had prostate cancer which had metastasized and had to be put down. When some of the residents burst into tears, she said, "Brutus is not hurting anymore".

Topics: Activities , Alzheimer's/Dementia , Executive Leadership