Visit with grandma: San Bruno dog brings comfort during shelter-in-place

It’s a scene played out outside homes across the country and even around the world: loved ones, visiting their elderly parents or grandparents with distance between them and a wish they could reach out for a hug. 

Last weekend, it was a heartwarming moment captured in a photo, when Bella the dog made a visit to see her "grand-pawents.” The photo showed the Pembroke Welsh Corgi looking up at 83-year-old Rosemary Piserchio, as the grandmother sat on the other side of a screen door of her San Bruno home to say hello. With every visit, the dog has brought the grandmother lots of love and comfort during the ongoing shelter-in-place.

Bella visits 83-year-old Rosemary Piserchio at her San Bruno home. (Joelle Piserchio Oliveira)

"Bella wanted so badly to go inside and snuggle Grandma,” said daughter Joelle Piserchio Oliveira, adding, “The dog was dying to go in because she loves my mom!"

Piserchio Oliveira said that as the shelter-in-place mandates get extended, family members continue to make frequent visits to see her mom and 89-year-old dad. Bella belongs to Piserchio Oliveira’s niece and nephew, who also live in San Bruno and visit their grandparents frequently.

Rosemary and Richard Piserchio have four kids and six grandchildren, have lived in the same house for 60 years and have been married for 64. Both are retired teachers with deep roots in the community and decades long careers as teachers. Richard Piserchio taught at Woodside High School and Skyline College. His wife taught at College of San Mateo. 

(Joelle Piserchio Oliveira)

Family members have made it a point to stop by regularly to make sure their parents, who remain very independent and active, don't leave their home and also don’t feel so isolated. 

“My dad is an old school Italian man and he does all the grocery shopping, and he keeps kind of threatening to go,” said Piserchio Oliveira. So she and her siblings have made sure that their parents have everything they need.

Like other families who are tending to their elderly relatives, the Piserchios’ four children have a care-routine in place. They stop-by and check on them, drop-off groceries, puzzles, and even deliver take-out meals from the couple’s favorite Thai restaurant in town. "We all pitch-in in different ways to keep them occupied and entertained,” Piserchio Oliveira said. 

For the family, humor has also been a key to getting through this. During one of her visits with her parents a few weeks ago, Piserchio Oliveira sat through a screen door, chatting with her dad, when he commented, “I feel like a priest in a confessional!” Then later, as she was saying goodbye, her dad bid her farewell with a, “5 Hail Marys and 5 Our Fathers, and you’ll be alright!" The daughter shared the story saying, "He’s 89 and has the best sense of humor!”

All of this support from the Piserchios' kids has allowed the couple to remain entirely at home since early March, not leaving even once.

Piserchio Oliveira said that she knows how fortunate they are to have this family network in place for their parents. “Honestly, I feel like my family, we’re so lucky,” she said. “We’re all grateful that we have each other."

The importance of family was something her parents instilled in her and her siblings their whole life, and Piserchio Oliveira said that it’s a lesson that’s apparent now more than ever. "The thing they’ve always told us was that no one will be there for you like your family, how family is our number one thing,” she said. “We absolutely live and breathe it every day.”

Photo shows Piserchios' six grandchildren.