Life is never smooth sailing, and sometimes the challenges it hurls at us can be too much to handle. It gets even tougher when you do not have someone to shoulder the burden or at least lift your spirits. Someone once said that the most beautiful smile is that which struggles even through the tears. Pain can erase every reason to be happy, but thank God for therapy dogs. Regardless of how much you may find dogs intolerable, once you have been through a painful phase in your life, a loyal dog that only wants to make you happy can help bring a smile to your face. That was the case of one family that was undergoing a sad experience, but things turned around when they got a dog. Here is their story.
Pain after pain
2012 was no ordinary year for the Carrs, and if they could go back, perhaps they would have changed some of the incidents. While everyone else was welcoming the year with lots of hope for the resolutions they had set the previous year, Billy and Joy Carr had no reason to celebrate. They had barely calmed down after the festivities when they learned that Billy had a brain tumor. Since it involved a vital part of the body, the best thing was to take action immediately, and surgery was scheduled for March 2012. Even before they could start getting ready for the surgery, Bubba, their 17-year-old dog, passed away. It was a trying experience for the Carrs, and the joy that their dog brought to their lives was now absent. They felt miserable and therefore decided to get another dog.
After surgery, the Carrs were on their way back home when they stopped by an animal rescue event. They were hoping to find a dog that would bring them back to life as Bubba did. Billy was tired after undergoing surgery and, therefore, remained at the back of the building, waiting for Joy to search for the ideal dog. They say some matches are made in heaven, and nothing can stop that which belongs to you from becoming yours. Joy went through the entire building, but none of the dogs were to her liking. She headed back, ready to share the sad news with Billy, but fate had already played its hand, and Billy had found his perfect dog.
As it turns out, sometimes, what we are seeking is right before our eyes. Joy was looking through all the puppies, yet the entire time the dog they needed was where Billy sat. Billy did not need an active dog to play with but instead, one who would sit quietly with him and maybe cuddle. One dog met all the qualifications because while the rest barked, hoping to catch Joy’s attention, he remained in his kennel, only sticking his tongue out. Billy requested to hold the dog, and when Joy came back and found them together, she knew they would be going back home with Sherman.
Becoming a therapy dog
Billy’s surgery was delicate, and he needed lots of time to recover. Unfortunately, bills have to be paid, so Joy went back to work, leaving Billy with Sherman. Billy was still grieving the loss of Bubba and coming to terms with the brain surgery uncertain effects. However, with Sherman by his side, Billy soon realized there is more to life than worrying, and within no time, he was making new memories with Sherman. Joy told AKC (America Kennel Club) that they stopped feeling sorry for themselves as Sherman brightened up their lives again.
Having seen how much change Sherman had brought to their lives, the Carrs were ready to share the magical presence of Sherman with those who needed it too. They, therefore, wanted to sign him up as a therapy dog, but he needed to pass the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test. A CGC test instills good manners and a sense of responsibility in the dog and the owners, as well. It requires a canine to undergo practical exercises such as being surrounded by strangers and reactions to distractions. As for Sherman, his reaction was tested through an umbrella being opened up suddenly, and the dropping of a soda can filled with pebbles. Sherman maintained his cool, enabling him to become a therapy dog, visiting nursing homes every month.
He, however, has grown old himself and retired from therapy life. That does not mean he has retired from being a lovable dog. He is so friendly that Joy and Billy have met their neighbors, thanks to Sherman. He continues to bring sunshine to his owners that view him as a blessing.
Other rescue dogs that have become therapy dogs
In 2018, Hope for Paws rescued an underweight dog from the streets of Los Angeles after luring him with a cheeseburger to win his trust. After a bath and medication, Everest, as he came to be named, was ready for adoption. Luckily for him, a family in Oregon had already fallen in love with him and filled out the adoption papers, Everest joined the family that has two dogs, Bonnie and Clyde. The family that has a heart of gold was preparing Clyde to become a therapy dog, and Everest began the training too. Together, the two dogs will restore happiness in children by visiting children’s hospitals.
Another rescue dog, Cora, joined Valley Police Department to work as a therapy dog. Her handler is Officer Morales, who is the department’s peer support and wellness coordinator. Ready to make a difference in the community, Officer Morales asked what he would do to help the department. The people unanimously responded all they needed was a therapy dog. At the time, Cora was in the care of Friends for Life Animal Rescue, and they took her to the department for consideration. The dog trainer found her to be the ideal candidate, and The Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association took care of Cora’s training costs. By July 2019, according to Fox 10, Cora had made quite a significant impact in the department.