This I Believe

Andrea - Aston, Pennsylvania
Entered on May 23, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

The canine has served as our best friend for many centuries. Dogs have proven their utility as hard working herding and tracking animals. But there is something else beyond the companionship and fieldwork that these amazing creatures have to offer. I believe that the canine has even more talents that are often overlooked by conventional scientists and educators.

When my son was in elementary school we were informed that he was having significant reading and attention problems. The teachers recommended enrolling him in special classes. They also suggested that he be evaluated for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or AD/HD. My husband and I were devastated, confused and determined all at the same time. We had never heard of this type of disorder. When we were kids and struggled in school, we were simply told by our parents to pay more attention in class and don’t leave the table until all your homework is done.

My husband and I laid awake at night debating over what we should do. Should we put him on medication? Should we get him a private tutor? Should we put him in a special school? Our instincts as parents were not steering us in any of these directions. Then one day, I came home with a puppy. I’ll never forget that day. My husband was painting the living room and he looked at me as if I had just been abducted by aliens. Why would I voluntarily bring this needy creature into our home when we had our hands full with our current crisis?

I don’t know why I brought that puppy home that day. It just felt right according to my “mother’s instincts”. That year we saw amazing changes in our son without medication, tutoring or special schools. We continued to be diligent and help him with his schoolwork. We treated him like a normal kid. But his wasn’t just a normal kid. He was a normal kid with a dog!

Robert Benchley said, “A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.” There is no classroom that can simulate caring for a dog and no reward more satisfying than the love of a dog. My son has become a good reader and has mastered applying attention to tasks. He made the honor roll and is an accomplished pianist.

I believe dogs not only have the ability to be wonderful companions but can do much more. They can help the elderly live longer lives. They can help improve certain medical disorders such as high blood pressure. They can even inspire young children to read better and more often. There are now programs in which certified therapy dogs make visitations to nursing homes, hospitals, and libraries. Finally, the full spectrum of contributions that the canine can make to mankind is being scientifically studied. The evidence proves what I have believed for a long time. I am a mom who loves her son and believes in the amazing power of the canine.