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Different Ways Dogs Touch Our Lives

Posted: October 29, 2010, 6:45 p.m., EDT

Just about every week, I meet people whose lives were touched in a very special and sometimes unusual way by the presence of a furry friend. Just last week, I had three such interactions.

People who love dogs love to talk about them. However, I sensed something different about Betty on a recent Tuesday afternoon. While she was gushing over her 2 year-old Maltese named Bentley, she started to tear up. You see, Betty’s husband had passed away several years ago and Betty had lost her way in life. She didn’t really care to continue on this earth without her beloved husband by her side. But then Bentley came into her life and gave her reason to live--something to take care of and nurture. Who would have thought this 12-pound ball of fur could rescue a grown woman from the depths of her depression? There is a little part of me that believes the spirit of her departed husband had something to do with Bentley coming into Betty’s life.

There are numerous stories in the news about animals sensing things before they happen. There is the nursing home cat in Rhode Island that has an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours. There are dogs that have an uncanny ability to sniff out lung and breast cancer in its early stages of development. I have a customer whose dog was able to alert her just prior to her grandson having an epileptic seizure. While that in and of itself is remarkable, even more chilling is that the dog recently fell ill and was diagnosed with a form of canine epilepsy very similar to the type of epilepsy her grandson suffers from. Unfortunately, the canine epilepsy changed the dog’s disposition significantly, resulting in the terribly tough decision to euthanize the dog. However, based on the dog’s original signaling and careful observation of the child prior to his episodes, the child’s parents are now able to sense the onset of the seizures.

As everyone knows, one of the traditions of Halloween is carving pumpkins. A pumpkin can be made to look like jolly jack-o-lantern, scary skeleton, or even…a beloved dog. While waiting in line at my favorite coffee shop, I overheard a lovely women tell the cashier all about the pumpkin she carved as a tribute to her late dog. I was intrigued! We happened to be parked near one another and I struck up a conversation with Judi as we walked out of the coffee shop together. Judi recently lost a wonderful Chocolate Lab, named Yogi, who passed away at the age of 11. She came across a pumpkin carving kit online that had a pattern that reminded her of Yogi. She purchased it and later carved her masterpiece (which she had in her car and was able to show me). As you know if you read this blog regularly, I, too, have a Chocolate Lab, Marley. She is almost 14 years-old and is still doing OK. Maybe that is why I felt a connection to Judi. I can relate to that love of a "sloppy kisser" in the form of a four-legged friend. On a front porch in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., a candle burns inside a fun tribute to a dog that is gone but not forgotten.

Don’t be afraid to let a dog touch your life!!!!

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