We have so many wonderful clients, and getting to know them and their families make our work extra special. This month, we asked one of our clients, Carl Maier, to share the story of his very special family.
It’s so nice of Wendy to want to feature me this month. Wendy is a delightful attorney, as is her partner, Lisa. They’re not your typical lawyers; it’s their compassion for people that particularly sets them apart. We’ve become very good friends since they represented me, which is how they got to know my border collies: Rusty, Storm, and Princess Leia — yes, she is named after the “Star Wars” character.
I’ve had collies my whole life. They’re remarkable animals and wonderful with children. My first collie was Lucky. When I was 9 years old, my dad asked what I wanted for Christmas and I said, “I want a Lassie puppy.” On Christmas morning, you can guess what was waiting for me with his tail wagging in anticipation. It was Lucky, who was a true Lassie puppy because he was a descendant of the original Lassie who appeared in the movie of the same name. Lucky lived with me for 17 years. Rusty, son of the eighth-generation Lassie, was born on Thanksgiving of 1999 in California. I lived in New Jersey at the time and brought him home that winter. He was a pretty special dog. As trained therapy companions, we visited people in hospitals and homes, and he provided comfort to them. We volunteered for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and he brought joy to kids fighting cancer.
Rusty took on the role of National Red Cross Canine Mascot, and after 9/11, we went to Liberty State Park so he could comfort people who were searching for their loved ones. The experience changed both of us. He did so much for the families of the victims during that time. We went to memorial services for the victims, and there’s an image I’ll never forget from that day of Rusty with his Red Cross vest on, paw over a railing, looking out at the Hudson. Thanks to two incredible artists, there’s a portrait of that scene in the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
Getting into service work with my dogs was a new frontier. It was during an obedience class with Rusty’s dad that I met someone from Therapy Dogs International. They noticed my dog’s good behavior and calm demeanor. “You have a great dog. Have you thought of having him be a therapy dog?” From that referral, I took Rusty and then Storm to join a group of therapy dogs and their owners who provide comfort and companionship to people.
Especially when we visit a patient in a hospital or retirement home, the presence of a friendly dog really sparks memories for people. People living in these establishments can no longer have pets, so it’s really special for them to have a visit from my dog and me. The responses we get from these folks and from children who are handicapped or in treatment are very rewarding. We tend to do a lot of visits to hospitals, schools, and other facilities where people can’t have pets of their own. We have been going to a lot of grade schools, too, and the students really have fun with him. There has been a lot of good that’s come out of it, both for us and the people we interact with. I never had children, so these dogs are my kids. It’s such a wonderful feeling to have that comfort.
When I got my new puppy, Princess Leia, in May of this year, I brought her to visit Wendy and Lisa. We had a wonderful time with the dogs, and their staff gave Princess Leia a beautiful package filled with toys and different dog biscuits. I can tell you Princess Leia was very happy. She is 8 months old, and I’m training her to do the same thing that Rusty did and Storm continues to do for people: bring comfort.
Call Now For A Free Case Evaluation