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ISBN: 9781608446568
128 pages
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Excerpt from the Book

Calla's Valentine Lily of the Valley

I located a breeder on the AKC website that had puppies on the ground. I e-mailed her and we made arrangements to visit. Lily was one of ten beautiful puppies, six weeks old. But, in my Lyme Fog, typical of the disease, I hadn’t really grasped “puppy.” I was saying “puppy,” but when I was greeted at the door by a beautiful, smiling 67 pound golden, it was love at first sight. This was the puppy I wanted; she was the dog I’d been dreaming about. The breeder thought I was kidding, of course.

“Well, if you like this dog, I’ll show you which puppy is for you. I have a little female that is exactly like her mother at this age in looks, behavior, and temperament.”

I was blown away. Puppy? Oh–a puppy! The lovely dog at the door was the puppy’s mother, not for sale. A puppy… that’s right, puddles on the floor, shoes chewed, painful nips on the ankles. Oh, my gosh, what have I done? Puppies are little! I wanted a dog like Candy that I could lean into and hug. I really hadn’t gotten my Lyme-fogged brain around “puppy” until now. But it didn’t take long for the fear to subside and for love to take over. We went back to Virginia to get her when she was ten weeks old and brought her home to the mountains forever. She was born on Valentine’s Day and became ours on Easter weekend. We call her Lily.

Lily did piddle on the floor a couple of times. She did chew up Dave’s brand new shoe. And she did make me cry out in pain with her puppy teeth. But she learned very quickly. I look back at those puppy days now and realize that she has been a therapy dog all her life. She began as a puppy to know not to trip or nip. She never pushed through a door, raced on the stairs, dragged, or jumped on me, and never got on the bed. She was always beside me where I could reach her. She watched me and she figured out a lot of things that I didn’t know she’d need to know later on. She made my convalescing days a sweet time of bonding and learning.

As I got stronger and more determined to have fun with my dog, we took obedience classes, agility training, (where I fell down a few times), and canine freestyle (dancing) classes. With nice manners she easily passed her Canine Good Citizen test. I think it had more to do with her mother dog’s example and early training than her training with me.

I didn’t really know yet what therapy dog was all about, but it crept into our lives, and she passed the Therapy Dog International certification test with flying colors. Knowing how much she had done for my own recovery, I wanted to share her with others who might benefit from her gentle presence at their bedside. And so began her ministry as a therapy dog.