My golden retriever’s name is Brody. He recently earned a certificate to be a therapy dog. I was so proud of him. I wasn’t sure we would ever make this goal.
I’ve been taking Brody every week to evening dog training classes for a little over a year. When the trainer asked my goals for Brody, I said, “For him to walk on a leash without pulling me off my feet, not to jump up on people, and to come when called.” In time we accomplished all that—but also much more.
Together Brody and I have gone through months of basic and then advanced group training. These were followed by special dog therapy classes to help prepare us even more.
During those final sessions Brody and I—along with about 20 other dogs and handlers—began with bus manners. These lessons helped us learn how to walk onto a bus and sit down with the dogs under our seats. Next we went to the airport, where we learned to safely take our dogs up and down escalators and through airport security. Then a trip to a fire station helped our dogs deal with loud noises. They had to remain calm while the fire engine blasted its siren.
The most important training of all, though, took place in assisted living centers. Here the residents, who are all older, were able to meet our dogs. Many of them held and petted the dogs. Some cried as they told stories of their pets who had died. Having the dogs there made them talk with us as if we were old friends. A trained dog like Brody can bring happiness to a lonely person, someone who is sick, or students who are worried about school. Children in the library enjoy reading stories to your dog too.
Jesus says that if we are helpful, loving, and kind, we are doing His work. Brody and I are doing just that—making a simple difference by being friendly to others. How do you make a difference?
—This was adapted from an article that appeared in the Adventist Review in November 2016. Sandra Blackmer is an assistant editor of Adventist Review.
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