Friday, May 24, 2013

Dog Therapy

While the main purpose of this blog is to document and share the outdoor adventures of me and my dog, Charlie, occasionally I have to take pause and marvel that these awesome creatures we call dogs are in our lives. How different the world would be without them.

Charlie is not a certified therapy dog. She has not been formally trained in any way whatsoever. She is not a cuddler. But this past weekend, she provided some of the sweetest therapy to a ten-year-old girl, without even knowing it.

My niece lost a most favorite grandma at the tender age of six. She was too young to understand the complexities of death and loss at that time and has lived with many unanswered questions since. Recently, her grandpa has become ill and she is now facing the possibility of losing another grandparent. This has brought a lot of her questions bubbling to the surface, and last weekend the bubble burst. She started asking questions, and I was the one she chose to talk to. What a huge burden, what a beautiful opportunity.

As her questions were gently answered, one by one, snuggled in the double bed together, she would occasionally sit up and pet Charlie at the foot of the bed. I noticed the wordless exchange between them but did not acknowledge it at the time. Now, after having a few days to mull over our conversations, I realize how much she clung to Charlie throughout the weekend. And I realize that Charlie provided much needed dog therapy for this little girl.

I remember my childhood dog, Riley, and how I could talk to him and tell him anything. He did not care what I told him and wouldn't understand anyway. He would go with me anywhere and was always dependably by my side. He was the best friend to a little girl who had no other friends. The gentle weight of his head on my lap was reassuring and the warm brown eyes that gazed into my soul were full of endless love. And sometimes that is all you need.

A dog is not judgmental. They will not make you feel stupid or inappropriate for asking your questions. They will not lie to you. They will not even understand the things you are telling them, but they are there for you, offering their unconditional love and lots of kisses. They are a true comfort.

Your dog does not need to be certified, registered or professionally trained to provide a benefit to you. Their presence alone is enough. Their only desire in life is to be your friend. Their loyalty and love is unsurpassed. They are absolutely amazing and deserving of the title, Man's Best Friend.