A friend and therapist

A friend and therapist

There was once a dog so loyal to his owner that he followed him everywhere. When the man died, he was buried in a local cemetery. Hardly anybody noticed the little dog trailing behind the mourners, but after everybody left, the dog sat down by his owner’s grave. He stayed there not just for a day, a week, a month, but the rest of his life. A few dog lovers who noticed him during this period would give him food and water. But the dog never left the place where his master was laid to rest. After a few years, the dog too passed away at the very spot, the post of his vigilance.

Reading this real-life story in a book, my eyes teared up. The little dog’s big act of faithfulness touched me so much. I remembered the spot where we had buried our golden retriever Valentino recently. After bidding tearful goodbyes and planting a sapling there, we never went back — not because we didn’t care but because we feared that the raw wound of losing him would not heal if we kept revisiting our fond memories of him. That is the difference between humans and canines.

When I was wallowing in that grief, unable to come to terms with the idea of getting another puppy, my son, to console me and to give me some perspective, gifted me a book — ‘Norbert’s Little Lessons for a Big Life’. The book spoke of the special bonding between humans and canines. Norbert is a popular therapy dog in the US. With over 1 million followers on Facebook and 680,000 on Instagram, he has become a social media sensation.

Norbert is a mixed breed — Chihuahua, Crain Terrier and Llasa Apso — making him one of a kind dog. Tiny and cute, he stands just 7 inches tall with a beautiful coat of fur and pink tongue sticking out a bit. In this book, Norbert explains, in the first person, his life journey after he was adopted by Julie Steines. He calls her his mom and tells how they both together provide comfort to people in need at places like hospitals, schools, disaster areas and more.

The book has amazing pictures of Norbert with inspirational captions to go with them — “Always remember it’s cool to be kind”, “When your enthusiasm gets dampened just shake it out”, “Chin up, sometimes the best stuff is just ahead”, “You are wonderful just the way you are,” etc. The one picture I am drawn to again and again is of Norbert and his best buddy Fred, a golden retriever, with the caption: “A good friend can help you twinkle and shine.”

Ah, I don’t shed tears anymore; instead, I send prayerful thanks to Valentino, for coming into my life and home. Thanks to Norbert, I am toying with the idea of getting a puppy home again as my personal therapist and dear friend.