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Happy Tail: Remembering Joe Ann Grant. who loved dogs

Remembering a wonderful friend who loved dogs, life, and had a wonderful sense of adventure and humor: Joe Ann Grant, Adair County, KY (1938-2014) who is in a 'better place now, where . . . she's outside in the fields or in the barn with her mules and a dog or two . . .' - PEG SCHAEFFER
The next earlier Happy Tail - Why do I do this Posted March 9, 2014.

By Peg Schaeffer
Sugarfoot Farm Rescue

I was saddened to read of the passing of Joe Ann Grant, a resident at Summit Manor. The first time I visited Summit Manor with the dogs more than one nurse told me "be sure to visit Joe Ann, she loves dogs."

They took me to her room and in a huge recliner was a bit of a woman in jeans. Her face lit up when she saw the dogs and she scooted over in her chair, patting the space beside her. "Put one right here."


I put Maddie at her side, who licked Joe Ann's face. Her smile grew and she hugged Maddie. We stayed in her room the longest. Every time we went to leave she begged us to stay a few more minutes. So I began dog visits at Summit Manor every month. We were quite a hit. When we'd come in someone would say "be sure to see so and so, they've been asking for you."

The men liked the bigger dogs

The men liked the bigger dogs and the hounds. The women liked the small dogs that could jump in their lap. The dogs were always gentle with the residents seeming to know they were frail and special. The best dog with the people was Owen. He was a Beagle mix and had a knack with them. Kelsey pretty much ignored them, more interested if there were any crumbs on the floor. But every now and then she seemed to sense when someone needed special attention. One day there was a woman in bed, covered with blankets, and Kelsey jumped into the bed and licked her face. The woman's face gleamed.

The beginning of a love affair

I got a call from Summit Manor one day that a dog was found wandering in the parking lot. Could I come and get it? I got there later in the day and was told at the nurses' station that the dog was in Joe Ann's room. Of course, where else would it be? I went to her room and sitting on her lap was a tiny, tan Chihuahua. Joe Ann and she had hit it off. Joe Ann had already named her "Sugar" and it was a very fitting name. I stayed and visited with her for a while and when it came time to leave I practically had to pry Sugar from her arms. They had bonded in that short time.

Sugar became Joe Ann's dog

So Sugar became Joe Ann's dog. I would bring Sugar to visit more than just on our monthly visits. If I was in the area I would stop for a few minutes so Sugar and Joe Ann could see each other. I loved talking to Joe Ann. She would tell me stories about her dog "Apple" that she had to give up when she came to the convalescent home. It broke her heart and she told me more than once she wished she had known me then so I could have taken her dog. We would also talk about mules. She used to work the farm with mules and she loved them. I have a mule "Dolly", so I would tell her stories of Dolly's antics.

A plan to have dogs in her room

One day when I was visiting, Joe Ann and another resident were in the volunteer office. We were talking and the two women said they should have a room together so they could have dogs in the room. They hatched out quite an elaborate plan. I'm sure they could have made it work.

When the Adair County Fair comes in July, the residents of Summit Manor go in the morning and have the fairgrounds to themselves along with other seniors. They go on rides, play games, and get soda and popcorn. They are given the red carpet treatment.

Joe Ann had a wonderful sense of humor

I always volunteer to help on those days. Joe Ann didn't go this year but she did go the year before. I pushed her wheelchair over the grounds, which is always very difficult. If you're on the pavement it's fine but wheelchairs don't have 4 wheel drive and it's hard to push them through the ruts and over the electrical cords. I was pushing her wheelchair with all my might and the wheels just wouldn't turn. I looked down to evaluate the problem - I had managed to wrap the hose to her oxygen around the wheel. One more turn and I would have pulled it out of the tank. I called Laura Koller for help and we laughed and unwound the hose. Joe Ann laughed too.

Joe Ann and I went on some of the rides together, even the bumper cars. It's nice that the fair association does this for the residents. It gives them a change and they always have a ball.

She enjoyed photo cards with Sugar on them

I had to stop the visits to Summit Manor due to Keith's work schedule. I would still bring the dogs on occasion and made it a point to visit Joe Ann on holidays. I would give her photo cards with Sugar on them. So when I read that Joe Ann had died I had regrets that I hadn't visited more often. I always had more important things to do. I never had the spare time. I don't know how many times in the last few weeks I've told myself to stop by and visit Joe Ann. I've driven by Summit Manor with the dogs in the Tahoe and thought "I could stop for a minute" but always came up with an excuse. I'm so sorry that I didn't make more of an effort. Now I can't visit her.

So if you know someone in a convalescent home, or even if you don't, take time from your busy schedule to visit. They enjoy the company and they always have interesting stories to tell. Don't make excuses like I did and then miss out on the time you could have spent together. I'm going to make time again and make monthly visits with the dogs to visit. My time is not that valuable that I can't bring them some four legged friends.

Joe Ann's back outside in the fields or in the barn. . . with a dog or two

I know Joe Ann is in a better place now. I'm sure she's outside in the fields or in the barn with her mules and a dog or two. Rest in peace Joe Ann, you've been a very special friend in my and Sugar's lives.

Peg Schaeffer, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY 42728 Telephone: home 270-378-4521 or cell 270-634-4675 email: sugarfootfarmrescue@yahoo.com


This story was posted on 2014-03-16 10:42:28
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Sugar became Joe Ann's dog



2014-03-16 - Summit Manor, 400 Bomar Heights, Columbia, KY - Photo by Peg Schaeffer.
". . . I got a call from Summit Manor one day that a dog was found wandering in the parking lot.
Could I come and get it? I got there later in the day and was told at the nurses’ station that the dog was in Joe Ann’s room. Of course, where else would it be? I went to her room and sitting on her lap was a tiny, tan Chihuahua. Joe Ann and she had hit it off. Joe Ann had already named her “Sugar” and it was a very fitting name. I stayed and visited with her for a while and when it came time to leave I practically had to pry Sugar from her arms. They had bonded in that short time. . . " - PEG SCHAEFFER. POSTSCRIPT Sadly, Joe Ann Grant passed away this past week.

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