I wait for my coffee with Stanley. His pictures are up on the window of our treatment room, right in front of the Keurig machine. He lived his life with spectacular exuberance. Stanley had allergies, he tore a cruciate and he fractured a molar that was a real bugger to get out. It was his legs that failed him in the end. In his last few months, the only way we could get Stanley inside the clinic, was if his mom and dad brought runners from home. Our non-slip rubber mats? Well those were no good. Stanley needed the ones he was used to. We liked to joke that he was neurotic or maybe just plain stubborn. Either way, it was always fun with Stanley around.
As the Keurig machine hums and sputters, my mind wanders. Roll out the carpets! Stanley is here! He barrels through the front door while his adoring fans call out their hellos. He makes a beeline for the dog room and flops himself down in his favourite spot, panting like a freight train all the way. He looks up at me. He knows I will stroke his soft brown fur and tell him just how lovely he is.
Before long, I smile. Then, I laugh … out loud. It just feels so good to have known him – to have known all of them. My shoulders relax as I take a deep breath, grab my coffee, and get back to work.