Sunday, December 16, 2012


A day or so ago, I wrote about a warrior telling me an angel entered his hospital room when Gracie had walked in. Today I do so again. 

A different warrior, a double amputee, quietly whispered...."Gracie walked in with angel wings." He brushed tears away from his eyes and they snuggled.  They just snuggled.  No words were said.  They were not needed.  A simple connection, a moment of understanding each for the other.  One of those moments where words are not needed, only the peace found in that place and time, as it filled the room.
There is a great deal being asked of our therapy dogs...they must remain comfortable in awkward and uncomfortable situations. Perhaps even more so with a blind therapy dog. Gracie is a gift from above for so many.  I am her eyes. She quite simply trusts me to not lead her into harm's way. But there is something far beyond that. She as a more keen sense of feelings with patients than I have ever witnessed in my 40 + years of being active in Animal Assisted Therapy. She knows when a patient is about to or has given up on themselves. She never gives up on them. Perhaps just another mystery. A mystery of the heart. She quite simply will not allow it.

In unspoken words, messages are conveyed and the tremendous burden carried by a wounded warrior suddenly is lightened.  She puts her coal black nose into their necks and nuzzles and then quietly rests her head on their chest or shoulder.  There is an understanding...a connection...a message transferred each to the other.  Almost as if she is telling them, 'if you choose the negative it will take your life, whether you are breathing or not.' 

Sorrow teaches us to be compassionate. Doubts and fears require we offer hope to  others.  Their courage, inspires us to better handle life's challenges.  Hope is provided by encouragement.  And sometimes, many times, this encouragement carries with it no words, only a very special gift of presence.

In life we have only lessons ~ no mistakes.  As these warriors have passed through my life, they are my teachers, just as my dogs have been. 

So this Christmas season, consider the possibility that the gifts you are stressing about buying in a mall with packed parking lots and unpleasant clerks and the pressure of time and getting it all done...consider that the true gift is a gift from the heart, a gift of love, of compassion, of empathy for each other.  Assist another in healing a broken heart, a broken spirit, a lost soul, hopelessness. What you receive in return is immeasurable. 

Perhaps it is that I hear a different drummer.  But I doubt it.  In the road less traveled M. Scott Peck says, "Pain in inevitable, but suffering optional."  Maybe, just maybe, this could be your gift to someone this year.  A real gift, a gift that doesn't have to be returned and is guaranteed to fit. 

Love someone back to life.  What better gift could be given?

There really is only one question ~ "How can I help?"

For me dogs are the silver lining that everyone looks for.  For me the answer is simple.  Small gestures of kindness add up to big things. In pain there is a sense of grace. 

Holiday magic comes from within....remember your indecision is your decision.  Let you decision this Christmas be one of love.  TS Elliott said, "Teach us to care, to not care.  Teach us to be still."

Spilled on this earth are all the joys of Heaven.  Look for them and offer them as your Christmas gift~


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