Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Boy Who Needed Alex

When I read a good uplifting story, I always want to share. There are too many depressing stories to read these days. This article is from The Power of Prayer Newsletter ~ it's an excerpt from Their Mysterious Ways Too. The Yellow Lab photo is not Alex ~ it is from the internet ~ I thought it would be nice to have a picture to relate to.


The Boy Who Needed Alex
by Lori Shaw

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 of 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 and 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 ten 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, I thought. 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.


Special thanks to my sister, Patty, who sent me this story in an email this morning.

4 comments:

Anne Huskey-Lockard said...

Animals, as a rule, have abilities that humans cannot begin to touch.
I'm smitten with the little feathered farts of mine, who lift my spirits on the darkest days.
Here is to the Creator, and His wisdom for knowing we needed company.

XXOO~~
Anne

Terra said...

That dog, Alex, has a wise soul and is helping many people in addition to that boy, I am sure. Great story.

Jan said...

Thanks for sharing the story, Audrey. Dogs definitely have senses that we cannot fathom. Sounds as though Alex certainly made a difference in that childs life.

Sharon said...

Thank you for that wonderful story. Dogs just know... of that I am sure.