Love your pet: Therapy dog Lilly brings joy to many

On July 19, 2009, a kindly bystander observed a little lost beagle-ish pup wandering in Richmond and brought her to the Mondanock Humane Society. Meanwhile, on that day, my two sons, my niece and I were in Boston with my sister celebrating her birthday, and I was most likely looking longingly at all those lucky dog owners walking their pooches in the Boston Public Garden.

Sadly, just a few years before, we had to bid a sad farewell to our precious beagle-mix, K.C., who had grown up with my sons and provided countless hours of fun and joy before succumbing to lymphoma.

By summer 2009, I was tired of a dog-less existence and had problem-solved ways to provide a good life for a dog even though there were no more children in the house, and I was working more hours than when K.C. joined our family. I conducted a search (mostly online at this point) for a small adult beagle-mix, eventually seeing a dog named Lilly on “Petfinder.” Then, one August day, my sons and I went to the Mondanock Humane Society to meet Lilly, a four-year old beagle-dachshund mix with soulful basset hound eyes.

I would like to say it was love at first sight, but to be honest, Lilly was so happy to be outside when we took her for a walk that she ignored us in favor of sniffing the ground and checking out chipmunks.

Figuring she was not a “people-oriented” dog, we left the Humane Society that day empty-handed.

However, I could not stop thinking about Lilly and decided to call our vet, Janet Merrill, to ask her if my concerns were well-founded. She encouraged me to visit Lilly again, pointing out that once I started feeding her, she would become quite attached. She also advised me to put aside my fears that a working person could not provide a good home for a dog, explaining that I would be rescuing her from life in a cage. Thus, I went back to the Humane Society less than a week later, spent some time with this sweet girl, and brought her home that day.

Over the past five years, Lilly has proven herself to be a calm, affectionate and gentle soul who has brought much joy and comfort to my life and to the lives of others. I think she might have lived in a kennel-type setting in her previous life, as she did need some house-training and obedience classes. The latter activity was so much fun that we continued with advanced classes until she had earned her Canine Good Citizen certificate at Good Mojo Dog Center here in Milford. From there it was only a few more skills to be prepared for the Therapy Dog test, which she passed in May of 2010, despite some distractions caused by a chipmunk sighting just before the testing session!

Since then, Lilly has had a busy social life, attending Superdogs Daycare in Merrimack once a week to play with other small dogs, charming folks she meets on our walks and hikes, and volunteering as a therapy dog. In terms of the latter activity, she loves to visit the Wadleigh Library once a month as part of the Paws to Read program, where the children read to the dogs, who inevitably serve as a non-critical audience. With a group of other therapy dog teams, we have the privilege of going to Carlyle Place monthly to interact with the residents. We also try to get to St. Joseph’s hospital every other week to visit with the patients and, in Lilly’s case, to snuggle and be petted! All of these activities, coupled with Lilly’s unconditional canine affection on the home front, truly bring meaning to the phrase “Who rescued whom?” found on many Humane Society T-shirts.

Lilly’s sweet disposition is even more remarkable when one considers the challenges she has endured. Shortly after I adopted her, she had to have an x-ray of her spine to rule out a disk problem. You can imagine my surprise when the vet called to report that she had twenty or more pellets or BB’s scattered throughout her body, possibly as a result of a hunting accident (we hope) … She also has a twisted paw, a protruding rib, and food allergies, but these issues have not interfered with her ability to bound up Pack Monadnock, open a closet door to unearth a bag of chocolate chips, or maintain her trust in humankind. As you can see from this essay I am a “dog person” who was fortunate to find the right dog for me, and I definitely count Lilly as one of the many blessings in my life.

– Submitted by
Anne Burke