While it is always heartbreaking and sad to say goodbye to our beloved furry pals, I wish to celebrate and honor the life of a special dog named Preston.
A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, he was the love of Julie’s life. Preston, who brought her much joy and comfort. He filled a void in her heart as she and her husband tried unsuccessfully for years to have a baby.
As an elementary school teacher seeing how some of her 3rd graders struggled to read, she began a program for her class to help her students. It was called “Pages for Preston.”
Reading to a dog, like many similar programs around the US, helps kids feel less intimidated and more relaxed when they know they are reading to a dog. And Preston was the perfect companion for just that. Oh, the stories he was read in his lifetime!
My children’s books, Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Dog & Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Therapy Dog Visit Libby’s House became books Julie’s students would read to Preston.
As a trained therapy dog through Therapy Dogs Inc., Julie also wanted to help others who wanted to do therapy dog work with their own dogs. She became a trainer/observer shortly after I met her when I did a presentation with Frankie for her classroom.
Julie and Preston would become the wonderful team that trained Frankie and me. It was such a special time that summer of 2008.
Working with Preston, Julie found it rewarding in giving back and making a difference as a therapy dog team. It helped take her mind off the fact that having a baby just didn’t seem to be in the cards for her.
I remember so well in August 2008 when Julie presented me with the official certificate certifying Frankie and me as a therapy dog team after our visits together to a nursing home. I felt so blessed to have worked with Julie and Preston. We had all formed a special friendship and I didn’t want our time together to end.
As we were riding in the elevator in the nursing home, I realized something different about Julie. A petite, small framed woman, she seemed “fuller” and was glowing. She would share with me that day that she was pregnant!
Preston, who provided love and understanding for Julie during those trying years, was also just what she needed in realizing that helping others in need served a far greater purpose than she could have ever known.
Julie and I remain friends. Because of our special connection and friendship, it seemed only fitting to me that Preston and her daughter, Lyla be a part of my children’s book, Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Therapy Dog Visits Libby’s House.
Frankie, me, Preston & Lyla
Preston’s legacy lives on in the book and I’m so honored to have been a part of his journey in doing this. But I also know without a doubt that Preston lives on in the hearts of the many children who read to him over the years. What a gift he was for those kids!
But most of all, he was the best friend to Julie who he adored and loved with all his heart… and it is Julie’s heart that is forever changed because of her beloved Preston.