Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Good Girl, Jazzie!

Susan Rice never planned on having a therapy dog. As a matter of fact, she didn't particularly want a dog -- until nine years ago when her husband and daughters began talking about getting a dog. She agreed, and they decided to get a poodle because "they are smart, they don't shed, they're trainable, and my husband grew up with a miniature." So off they went, to choose their dog.

In this case, however, the dog chose them. When the 10-week-old puppy came over and untied Susan's shoe, they were hooked. They adopted her and named her Jazmine ( Jazmine Rice -- get it?).

Susan and Jazmine went to puppy class, then to obedience class and advanced obedience class. Jazzie did so well and was such a responsive dog that they went on to get training for her to be a therapy dog. As a therapy dog, Jazzie is able to go to hospitals, nursing facilities, schools, and other settings where people can benefit from the comfort, companionship, and delight her presence brings.

I caught up with Susan and Jazmine at the Warm Beach Health Care Center, where they were entertaining about a dozen residents. The people were enchanted as Susan told them Jazzie's story and had her demonstrate her skills for them. Each one had a chance to play with the dog as she came up to greet them. The presentation was a definite success!

For several years Susan has taken Jazzie to VBS at their church. She shares with the children how the training Jazzie has received has helped her own understanding of living as a Christian. Jazzie is very attentive and is trained to keep her eyes on Susan. "Do I keep my eyes on Jesus?" Susan asks. "Do I listen for His voice as Jazzie listens for mine? And when I hear it, do I obey as eagerly as Jazzie does?"

We saw those skills demonstrated. Jazmine seldom looked away from Susan. She sat on her rug and awaited her commands. Then she flew into action! Whether she was fetching the newspaper or jumping through a hula-hoop, she seldom faltered.

Jazmine has learned to rest and be at peace in Susan's presence, and she trusts Susan so much that she will even walk with her when she can't see where they are going. These, too, are spiritual lessons for us as we grow in our relationship with Jesus.

Jazmine is from a family of show dogs. When she was born with a small patch of white hair on her chest, her breeders knew she would never qualify as a show dog, so she was sold as a pet instead. She may not be perfect by show standards, but she's proven to be a perfect pet and therapy dog. Good girl, Jazzie! Good girl!

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If you'd like to know more about therapy dogs, click here. On this site you will find stories of dogs who have served their country, their community, or their family.


Greg Staudacher said...

What a great article about my sister and her dog! I love them both for the joy they bring to this world.

Greg Staudacher

Ginger said...

Thanks for the comment, Greg! I agree with you about the joy the bring -- Susan and I went to Burundi together last summer! It was great to see her in action with Jazzie the other day.