The Search For A Therapy Dog Begins
A very wise friend told me, when he heard I was considering retirement, “So many people retire from something. You need to retire to something.” Thus began the journey as a teacher to discover what my “to” in retirement would be.
As a Christian, prayer had become an integral part of my daily life, so I began the process asking God, what will I do in retirement? It didn’t take long for God to reveal to me, that I loved children, I loved dogs, and I loved teaching reading. With that understanding, God lead me to realize, I wanted a puppy I could train to become a therapy and reading dog. Sounds simple, right? Nope!
One puppy became available, and even though my husband and I were not to the point of retirement, knowing the owner of the Sire dog, we took it. A precious sweet Golden Retriever puppy, we named Jack’son after his daddy Jack. All we had to do was train him, and we were good to go. Long story short, Jack’son was/is VERY excitable, and it takes him a good while to calm down after most situations. We soon learned that dogs have different temperaments. Therapy Dog Work was not in Jack’son’s future. (As a side note, we are discovering his purpose as we have moved along in life).
Moving forward a year, and knowing I was searching for the puppy with the right temperament to become a therapy dog, I began to earnestly pray, and seek God’s will, and continued the search for another puppy. Another litter of pups was born to the same daddy, but a different mom. Was this the right time, the right puppy? I did not send a deposit immediately. In my prayers I kept asking, “Lord, is this the right thing?” I didn’t get a yes or a no, so I finally sent the deposit, saying to the Lord, “If this isn’t right, close the door.” There were 9 beautiful puppies, we were 7th in line to pick. All the while knowing I wanted this puppy to be a therapy dog, picking third to last didn’t sound real promising. As time moved on, I was still praying, and I wasn’t getting a no from the Lord, so I began to get excited. The time came to make flight arrangements, and I promise, for two hours, I tried to book a flight to Dallas, TX. Every time I’d choose a seat, and go to purchase, the seat was gone.
Finally, I called the airlines. It turned out that there were two BIG football games in Dallas that weekend, one professional and one college. I honestly, couldn’t make it work. Rental cars were at a premium, couldn’t get a flight, or find a place to stay. It suddenly occurred to me, “You asked God to close the door if it wasn’t right, and he has.” Feeling a little deflated, I realized the right puppy would come along. I talked with the breeder, and she promised she’d let me know when the next litter was coming.
Another Litter of Puppies for Jack and Bella
Fast forward 12 more months. My husband had been retired almost 1 year, and I was retiring the end of that school year. Jack and Bella were once again going to be proud parents. I mailed my check immediately; I now had first pick from this litter. Having prayed extensively about this “Puppy with a Purpose” and having had many long conversations with Denise, the breeder, and a certified therapist herself, I resolved myself to letting her pick my Therapy Dog. Most people feel picking their puppy is so special. For me, letting God USE Denise to select our puppy, was unbelievably special.
On January 17, 2019, at 6:30 AM, the texts and photos began. Every 25-30 minutes they came. Finally at 8:30, the last puppy, a BIG 20 oz boy was born, he was labeled Grey. There were five puppies, four males and one female. What if one of these puppies didn’t have the right temperament? I told Denise I had prayed about it, and as much as I wanted one, if one of them, male or female didn’t have the right temperament, I’d wait again. All the while praying and trusting God, he’d make it clear.
The puppies were now 7 weeks old, and Denise informed me, “Grey Boy is the one, I’m sure of it.” He had the right temperament; he was the one. This time, I had many accumulated sick days from work, my husband was retired, I had a house sitter to stay with the other dogs, and a ton of accumulated Skymiles; we were going to get our therapy dog.
God’s Timing is Perfect
I booked my husband and myself nice seats to Dallas. We spent the night with Paul and Stephanie, which was a dream in and of itself. Stephanie and I had become internet friends years before through an on-line group called Dogsster. Many forever friends were made with this special group of people from all over the US and Australia. We spent many long hours almost nightly, as our stories were told in first person through our dogs. As this on-line group grew closer as friends, we celebrated human births, weddings, and many, many joys. We also supported one another through the sickness and sadness that come with dog ownership, as well with human family members. It was through that group, 11 years before, that God brought some of the most amazing people into my life.
Now, I was meeting the AMAZING Jack, (the sire of the pups), and his human parents for the first time. It was such an exciting time. In addition we met Jack’s son, Major from the first litter from which we didn’t get a puppy. Major is Grey boy’s full brother, from the first litter of Jack and Bella’s puppies.
Again, God’s timing was perfect, in that just a few short months after meeting Jack, and taking one of his sons home to Georgia with me, Jack suddenly grew ill and passed away. A few months later, Stephanie lost her husband, Paul as well. Had we not gone when we did, we would have missed the opportunity to know them both.
Meeting Our Puppy with a Purpose
Holding Grey Boy in my arms, hoping his forever name would come to me, and worrying because I had always had my dogs named before I ever got them. Still the incredible excitement of holding the puppy I had prayed, planned, and purposed for was the most wonderful feeling in the world.
As I picked him up in my arms, and looked into his eyes for the first time I said to him, “What is your name?” He didn’t answer. It was ok. We had so much to do; talk with Denise to get last minute instructions and his paperwork, and then head,in the rental car, to the Dallas / Ft. Worth Airport.
Having never traveled with a dog on a plane, not to mention a puppy, we were anxious. We had prepared as much as possible. We had a soft carrier, which surely, no one would make us put this precious puppy in it! They didn’t! Getting the rental car turned in, going through security, and getting to plane, all went well.
Walking through the concourse was the first affirmation I had that this dog was special. EVERYONE wanted to pet him, touch him, know about him. He was turning heads left and right, and it wasn’t because he was the only dog, there were other dogs there, I promise. Once on the plane, the word spread quickly, and ALL the flight attendants had to come up and meet him. The passengers, well most of them wanted to know all about him. They were willing to offer suggestions for his name. Soon we took off, and he was asleep in my arms, and slept though most of the 2 hour flight to Atlanta. Once off the plane, more attention. People would run up, and ask, “Please, can I pet your dog?” One lady on the plane train had to hold him, and he then laid beside her. Nothing seemed to rattle his little world. He was so calm and easy going. Once we got home and introduced him to his half-brother and adopted sister, and Norman the Cat, we all settled in for our new life together.
Choosing the Perfect Name
As I already stated, I have always had my dogs named before I ever saw them. This puppy however, was different. I had prayed and asked God, what special name should he get? His name needed to be one that made people feel calm and peaceful. When they said his name, it needed to bring a smile to their face. Therefore, when I met Grey Boy, and held him in my arms, the one name that did come to mind was Chip. “Is your name Chip?” That wasn’t quite the name. Biscuit was jokingly tossed around because of his coloring, Cooper, still not quiet right. Finally, the next day, after looking at the meaning of names, I came across the name, Charlie. In the Urban dictionary, it said, “The Sweetest guy you could ever meet”. His AKC Name became Couture Jack’s Chip off the Ole Block. His call name, Charlie.
Fast forward to April of 2020, a friend was telling me about the geese on her pond. How pleasant and serene they were. How She loved to watch them, and it looked like they were making a nest. Her statement reminded me of many years ago, when there were special geese on our pond in the subdivision. Many days after a hard day of work teaching middle school students, I’d stop by the pond and just sit and watch. The two geese became friends with me. They’d come for bread, and when they had babies, Lucy brought them to the bank for me to meet. She and her mate would talk to me and they were so proud of their little family. Sitting and watching them and their little growing goslings was so relaxing. It made the stress of the day leave. Can you guess what the male goose’s name was? His name was Charlie. When I was sharing this story with my friend, it was a WOW moment for me. Even 15 years before this puppy, God was planting his name and meaning deep inside my heart. Without a doubt, we had picked the perfect name for our “Puppy with a Purpose”.