We only have three more sessions with Julian before he and his family move away. How do you prepare one boy and one dog for this separation?
Julian has been such an important part of our lives for over two years, meeting weekly and sharing so many of this crazy adventure we call life.
As Julian grew and developed into a fine young man, my dog Benny also grew and developed into an outstanding therapy dog. When we began Benny was a good therapy dog but he became a better one for having known and loved Julian.
He understood his role was sometimes to encourage and motivate and celebrate.
He understood his role was ever changing, but always constant.
He understood his role was sometimes to just be there, supportive, nurturing, loving.
He understood his role was sometimes to share Julian with other animals.
I had a long conversation with Benny about the changes that are coming. How much of what I said, who knows what this little dog understood? But I know he is sad. I told him we would always be part of Julian’s life, but now his special child would have the chance to know and love other animals and people in his new home.
I told Benny we should be happy for them.
Julian has an awesome family and the move can only bring greater opportunities for all of them. Julian will move on and continue to expand his knowledge and capabilities.
But what about Benny?
The greatest therapy animals feel empathy and compassion and love. Benny knows when it is Thursday and he is a different dog going to work with Julian than with any other clients of ours.
I knew Benny needed children in his life and this one little boy became his best friend. They had a different relationship than any other.
So as I create all sorts of books and photos and binders and memories for Julian to take with him to remember the time with Benny and the amazing work they did, I am also trying to figure out a way to help Benny get over his loss.
As we prepare to say goodbye to our dear friends, the Sanchez family, I know they will ease their sons through the move and any changes that come along.
I know they will stay in touch. I can follow their journey on social media and through all kinds of communication.
But a dog needs to smell and feel and touch.
A dog needs to be there.
Preparing Benny to say goodbye is as much a necessity as preparing Julian.
How I communicate this to my dog is now my greatest challenge.
For more information about the Love Dog animal therapy program, visit www.lovedogadventures.com.