by Lee Juslin
If you believe the old adage: Dog is man’s best friend, then you haven’t read Dogs & the Women Who Love Them by Allen and Linda Anderson.
A compilation of individual stories about the relationships between women and their dogs, the book details profiles of therapy dogs, service dogs, and loyal companion dogs. Each chapter is a separate and complete story making this the kind of book you can easily put down and come back to without missing a beat.
The first section of the book is called, “Loyalty” and one of the profiles: “K-9 Major—from Chains to Heroism” embodies the essence of loyalty. Major, a German Shepherd, began life in a snow bank in rural WI. His first home was as a neglected guard dog. He was chained outside in all kinds of weather with little human contact except the negative kind: children with sticks who taunted and teased him. It wasn’t until Janet Ballard, handler of a bomb sniffing dog in the military and recently discharged, came into Major’s life that there was hope that he might experience love from a human.
Janet and Major bonded immediately and through their remarkable journey as law enforcement partners established a bond of friendship that is put to the test but never broken. On several occasions, each saves the life of the other and as Janet says, “Together, we jumped out of helicopters, crawled through swamps, searched for bombs, and protected each other from evil.”
The second section is entitled, “Healing” and deals with stories of dogs, many who were rescues, that come to serve as assistance dogs either for their people or others with disabilities. Beau, a black lab found running loose on the street, is one such dog. Beau was an untrained, fearful dog but when he was adopted by Lori Stevens, his life changed dramatically and so did hers. Together they entered pet therapy, appeared on the David Letterman Show, and went on to found Patriot Paws.
Patriot Paws began by training service dogs for handicapped veterans but has grown to an organization teaching prisoners to train dogs as well as offering public dog training sessions. Through it all Lori and Beau worked together with Beau serving as the goodwill ambassador for Patriot Paws as well as Lori’s protector when they traveled.
The book’s final section is called “Embracing Life” with the story of Judy and her Scottish Terrier, McDuff, a certified therapy dog. “Soul Mates on a Spiritual Mission” is my favorite profile because Judy and McDuff’s journey reminds me so much of the bond I had with my Scottish Terrier and certified therapy dog, Frosty. Visiting the elderly, as we did, Judy and McDuff reach out to folks often isolated and ignored by the rest of society. McDuff, like Frosty, was able to reach people and elicit responses from patients who remained locked away in their own world refusing to interact with nurses or staff. Judy found, as I did, that these folks would often ignore her but focus on McDuff seeming to share a special communication that included just the two of them.
Some of these stories may bring a tear, some a laugh, sometimes both in the same story but they will leave the reader with an understanding of just how wonderful a bond with a canine companion can be even if you and your four-footed friend don’t do grandiose things like establishing a national organization or work as a K-9 team catching bad guys.
A nice additional feature in the book is a Meditation, a thought provoking quote or phrase, that follows each story. The Meditation after McDuff’s story is:
McDuff continued to offer comfort to Judy even after death. Have you seen a vision, felt a presence, or had a dream which showed you that your soul mate lives on?
Many of us have.
This book is also occasionally on EBay.
Frosty’s Story: Tails of a Therapy Dog by Lee Juslin is available on amazon.com or directly from the author.
Read more animal related articles by Lee here in KRL.