I had just picked up a batch of mail from my post office box and was walking away when a neighbor stopped me.
“I read your book.”
“Did you enjoy it?”
“Well, it was interesting. I never realized how much work a person has to go through.”
He continued, “I’d never do it. I had an old dog. It stayed outside under the porch in the summer and slept in the house in the winter. Never had to tell it to come or anything.”
“Sounds like you had a really good dog.” I responded.” When a good dog loves you, it doesn’t need a lot of training. They are pretty smart.”
We chatted a few more minutes, and then we both separated.
Because he read my book, Challenges and Rewards, he understood why I was motivated to do whatever it took to train Bernie, and then Chris to become therapy dogs.
It’s been almost five years since the initial moment when I first got Bernie.
I smile as I recall his words, ‘how much work a person has to go through.’ Sure, there were times, especially in the beginning, when I wanted to give up.
But I had a mission. I wanted to help folks, yet knew I lacked the inner power to be ‘real.’
Here’s what I mean by that. You know when you see a person giving you a fake smile. Their expression isn’t sharing their real feeling. It’s as fake as their ‘Sorry about that’ comment.
I lack ‘real’ empathy when I visit people in healthcare facilities. I want to support them, but trying to spread cheer or lend some support… well, I’d be faking it… and they would know it.
However, as a dog handler, I can bring Bernie and Chris to folks and let the dogs work their magic. That’s what I do… and why I do it.