Friday, July 29, 2011

Handler Reflects on Doing Therapy Work for the First Time: "A Hero for $65.00"

 By Becky M.

"Three years ago tomorrow I walked into a cold, metal barn and saw what would later change my life – or maybe it changed my life the minute I walked in the barn. I would walk around haystacks and look into wire crates and see the empty eyes of dogs I only thought existed.

I would make my way to a dog labeled #171. He was filthy and matted and when I looked at him, something in my heart opened up.

A gentle spark took me by surprise and instantly I felt a desire to take this dog, among the hundreds of others, home with me.

I remember opening the cage door and touching him. My heart racing both in anticipation and pure fright. I didn’t know what I was doing here, I didn’t know if I could open the cage doors and pet the animals, I didn’t know anything that day – but I knew that I had to reach out to this dog.

#171 didn’t move when I brushed my hand on his head but as I took it away – he licked my finger and if there was any question about rescuing this dog – it was answered in just one lick.

Three miserable hours later, I walked out with #171 – whom I named half way through the auction. He cost me $65.00.

There was no conceivable reason for what I did – common sense had no place in what happened. I just acted on a feeling I don’t think I will ever have again.

Yesterday, Thorp walked into a local school and touched the lives of children who are challenged – emotionally. They each come with special needs and have a difficult time fitting into mainstream education.

They had been anticipating Thorp’s arrival for a week.

Thorp and I went and sat on the carpet area and the kids were invited two at a time to come and pet him. We introduced ourselves (no one really cared that I was there) and the kids all told Thorp their names and their grades.

They wanted to touch him, to hold him for he was their reward for the day – he was their motivation for being well-behaved.  Yesterday, Thorp was their hero.

One boy in particular held onto Thorp’s face firmly but gently and didn’t want to let go. He looked right into Thorp’s eyes and the moment took my breath away.

Here, a little boy, who is challenged in many ways, made this inspiring connection with a dog once only known as a number. A dog who could be bought for $65.00 and yet a dog who has the potential to change a little boy’s life.

They took a picture of Thorp and the boy and it hangs over his coat hook as his motivator for good behavior. All he desires is to be with Thorp and he only met him once.

The other kids all enjoyed Thorp and I know that they will come to love him and to look forward to spending every Tuesday with him – but the connection the little boy has with Thorp is a once in a lifetime. I know because it is the same connection I made with him three years ago.

Everyone who meets Thorp, young and old, feels something special about him. He has an understated compassion and a desire to be loved that is indescribable.

I didn’t know that day I rescued him that he would be a therapy dog, I only knew that he was something special – he would have a story to tell – a purpose bigger than I could understand.

And here he is, years later, sitting on the floor of my local school – impacting the lives of children for the better – a hero for $65.00."

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