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Brought Together by God’s Grace

How an inexplicable series of events and a therapy dog helped give a troubled little boy new hope.

Therapy Dog

My yellow lab, Alex, a certified therapy dog, tugged at her leash and trotted down the elementary school hallway, eager to get to the kids we’d been visiting the past couple months.

She stopped at our usual classroom. I straightened her red scarf and opened the door. But there were no kids. Just the teacher. That’s odd, I thought.

For years I’d prayed for the chance to raise a therapy dog, and Alex was a natural. A whip-smart, energetic pup, she breezed through obedience training. Her attentive amber eyes could melt the hardest of hearts.

She be­came certified at just a year old. Deep in my heart I knew Alex was meant to do good in the world. When one of her instructors told me about Dog Tales, a volunteer group that visits schools and libraries with therapy dogs, encouraging folks to read, it sounded perfect.

Alex loved kids so I signed her up. Our assignment was the local elementary school. From our first visit, the kids bonded to Alex. Every time we came back the students couldn’t wait to sit and read with Alex.

But that day, with our regular class missing, I wondered if we could help at all. I worried about Alex. She needed to do her therapy work. “I’m so sorry,” the teacher said. “I forgot to call you. The kids are out working on a project today.”

Alex sat next to me and whined. “Could we visit another class?” I asked.

The teacher thought for a mo­ment. “There is a class that would enjoy seeing…”

“Perfect!” I said. She led the way down the hall, and Alex and I followed. Then Alex stopped short in front of another door. “C’mon, girl,” I said, tugging on her leash. But my normally obedient dog wouldn’t budge. She wanted to, no, had to, enter this classroom. The teacher asked the class if they’d like to meet Alex. Then she waved us in. It was a small class, maybe 10 kids. “Hi, everyone,” I said. “This is Alex…”

Before I could finish, Alex made a beeline for a boy who was sitting on the carpet, his head down. She snuggled up to him and put her chin on his shoulder. The boy quietly put his arm around her.

I read a story to the kids. With each turn of the page, I caught a glimpse of the boy stroking Alex’s coat. She never left his side. That’s funny. Usually Alex makes her rounds and visits with all the kids. After we said our goodbyes, the teacher walked over. “May I please speak to you in the hallway?”

“Of course,” I said, following her.

“I know you have a schedule, but could Alex visit us each week too?”

“We’d love to,” I said. Then I saw tears in her eyes. “Did I say something wrong?”

She shook her head and pointed to the little boy. “He’s been depressed for months. We’ve tried everything, and we just can’t break through to him. But it looks like Alex has.”

Alex and I kept going back to that classroom. Each week that little boy brightened a bit more. Today he’s a happy fifth grader, who still gets visits from Alex and me.

Who could’ve known Alex would make such a big difference in a child’s life? But that’s what happens sometimes, isn’t it?

We ask God to give us opportunities to help, and he leads us to where we’re needed. Or rather, he led my dog.

Excerpted from Their Mysterious Ways Too, Copyright © 2011 by Guideposts. All rights reserved.

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