Inspiration Found in West

Wow! What an intense week we’re having! Yesterday, Sunday, we drove to West, Texas, a quiet, little town of about 3,000 people that lies about 65 miles west of where I live. Last week this quiet, little town had a big explosion that destroyed about half of the town including the high school and middle school and lots and lots of homes. On Sunday this quiet, little town was FULL of news trucks and fire trucks and all sorts of law enforcement folks and red cross helpers and insurance tents and food trucks and church vans and buses and trucks and trailers delivering donated stuff and more volunteers than probably the whole population.

And quite a few dogs. Therapy Dogs, International, the organization that I am registered with, put out a call for dog teams to come provide some comfort and emotional support for the people in West. So, there have been dogs there working every day since the tragedy happened. On Sunday, there were 6 dogs from TDI and a few dogs from other organizations. For me, it was a lot like going to the State Fair of Texas! Soooo many people that wanted to pet and hug and talk and visit. And sooooo much food! Everywhere you looked people were handing out hamburgers and hot dogs and sandwiches and fruit. And all over the ground, everywhere my nose passed over, there was food. It was intoxicating!

We took my work bag with us that is full of all the tools of my trade. Brushes and toys and books. I did get a LOT of brushing! And a lot of hugs! And a few tears. And the tears were from the adults. I can always find those folks who really need a dog hug. Something about ’em just calls out to me. We did get to read some books to a few kids. We took one of my very favorite ones — Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates. This book was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2010. The little dog in this book is the happiest little dog I have ever seen! And he sure put some smiles on the kids’ faces. It’s about a dog who loves books and wants to open a bookstore. But no one comes to buy books. So he reads and gets lost in his book. It’s a lovely story.

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They asked us not to take pictures of the kids, so we just took pictures of the surroundings. I wish you could see these inspiring young folks! They are full of such courage!

Today, Monday, was the kids’ 1st day back to school and we were there to visit them when they got out. Tomorrow, Tuesday, we’re going back to visit in the classrooms. That should be fun! And I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow.

And now all of you say your prayers and be thankful that you have your own bed in your own house to sleep in tonight. There are people in West who still don’t even know if they have a house to go back to.

An Ode to Jamie Wyeth, St. Gretta, and St. Alex

The Mom Person went off this weekend to spend some time with one of her Very Special Friends. I didn’t get to go, but it seems that she had a great time. They became friends a very long time ago when they each had a different dog than they have now. The Mom Person had a black Lab — St. Gretta. Kay had a Great Pyrenees that I’m guessing was a saint as well. His name was Alex. And the 4 of them spent a lot of time together visiting hospitals and such, doing Animal Assisted Therapy and doing their part to make the world a little bit better for lots of kids.

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The Mom Person and Kay have a mutual admiration for the Wyeth family of artists. N.C., Andrew, and Jamie. And this weekend Kay gave the Mom Person a treasure of a book that is illustrated by Jamie Wyeth. The book is titled Sammy in the Sky, and is written by Barbara Walsh. It was published in 2011 by Candlewick Press.

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It is a love story between a dog and his girl. “My dad said Sammy was the best hound dog in the whole world. All I knew was that I loved Sammy and Sammy loved me.” But dogs don’t live as long as little girls and when Sammy’s life on earth comes to an end, the girl and her family find a way to celebrate the joy that was Sammy.  This is a BooHoo kind of story. My Mom Person was shedding a lot of tears. Ultimately that’s what loving a dog is all about. Tears of joy, tears of triumph, tears of frustration, tears of sadness. And lots of laughter to go along with the tears. We dogs have pretty strong spirits. The Mom Person still sees St Gretta around sometimes and I know that when I leave this world I really won’t be gone.

For me, this book was all about smiles. Sammy had a great family who loved and cherished him for the dog that he was. And they kept that love strong even after he was gone. What more could a dog ask for?

Death is not a happy topic of conversation, but it is a part of everyone’s life. Ms. Walsh has created a lovely story of a blissful relationship between a girl and a dog. And Mr. Wyeth’s paintings are a perfect fit. Sammy in the Sky is a beautiful celebration of a super dog. It is truly a treasure book. You should check it out.