An Excerpt from
A MATTER OF FAITH
What My Service Dog Teaches Me About God
by Joan Patterson
Chapter 1: Faith
Trust, Confidence, Assurance, Reliance
Unswerving, Steady, Unfailing, Firm, Solid
I am so excited. I get to go to the house. Whenever my friends were there, they were picked to go live with someone.
Walk straight and tall. Stay close to my person’s side. Remember to do everything she asks. Wag tail. Wag tail.
We go inside. My friends’ smells fill the air. Don’t sniff the floor. I hope I don’t pee on the floor. Sometimes I get so excited, I can’t help myself.
Two people sit in the room. Will one be mine? We walk to the one in the wheelchair. She smiles at me.
I sit when my person sits. Oh, I hope she says yes. I really want to go live with her. She looks so happy.
She wheels closer. I force myself to stay sitting. She scratches my chin. It feels so good!
I want to stay with her. I like her. I have worked all my life so I can live with someone special like her.
I remember when I was little; I lived with two women. They taught me many fun things. Every time I did something they liked, I heard a sound. Then they gave me food. That was fun. I like food.
One of them attached a long brown string to my collar every time we went outside. I was so hungry one time, I waited till neither woman was looking and I ate it. It was tasty.
When I turned one, I had to say good-bye to one of my woman friends. I was sad to see her leave. The other one took me to my new home, a big building with lots of dogs. My new friends told me I would learn more things there.
I did. The new people taught me to open and close doors, pick something off the floor and give it back to them, and to turn a light on and off. I liked hearing that sound when they were teaching me. It meant I got food.
The hardest lesson was not to eat people food off the floor. It smelled so good.
The bedside alarm insisted I get up. When I tried to take a step, my left leg cooperated. My foot didn’t.
I sat back down on the bed, disgusted. I’d lived with multiple sclerosis for two years, and only a few people knew about it: immediate family and the board of the Christian school where I taught. None of my students or friends were aware of it. But, if I stumbled through the day, my secret would be out.
My husband would be getting up soon and Chas would notice something was wrong. He’d want to protect me by making me stay home. But I’m not an invalid and I’m not about to look like one. Pity is not going to be in my vocabulary.