Admittedly, I’m not a dog person. I grew up with dogs, especially collies, but when I became an adult and started a school, we never had pets. After spending my whole day taking care of children, there wasn’t much left for an animal. And because of the amount of time we spend away from home, we didn’t think it was fair to an animal to be left alone so much. Only a few dogs have captured my heart in recent years. My friend Annie’s dog Darla was a great friend during the days I spent alone with her in Maine one summer. My friend Al, who passed away years ago, used to take his dog Mikey on our annual camping trip to the Rez. After throwing the slimy stick he retrieved at least fifty times a day, Mikey grew on me. There were my granddaughter’s chihuahuas, notably Chin-Chinchilada, Beans, and Lala, all deceased now, who all showed immense personality for small dogs. And there was Candy.
I first met Candy when her owner, Parker, was in my 4th/5th grade class. Candy is a service dog who helps Parker, now seventeen, cope with the stresses of life brought on by Asperger’s syndrome, a form of high functioning autism. When Parker was in my class, Candy came to school with him and soon became an additional member of our class. She enjoyed recess with the children and even attended our graduation trip. Over the years I’ve known Candy and Parker, she did much more than help him remain calm during moments of stress. She became part of their family. Candy and Parker got involved with dog agility training and won many awards. She traveled with them to their farm in Kansas and has been Parker’s constant companion. Over time Parker was able to attend school without Candy, but she’s still his best friend. All of us who knew Candy and Parker when he was a Seed were more than a little concerned when we heard the news she’d recently wandered off from a dog groomer’s place. We knew what this meant to a special member of our village.
News of Candy’s disappearance made it to a local TV station and the next morning as soon as I heard what happened, I sent out a message to nearly everyone on my email list. I even posted a rare message on my facebook page. I was in contact with Parker’s mom all morning for the latest updates. It was a happy moment when her text arrived saying that Candy had been found safely at a local animal shelter and was on her way home. It’s one reunion I would’ve loved to see. I know Parker will face other challenges as he steps into adulthood in the not-so-far-off future. For now, though, I’m glad he and Candy had a happy ending to this adventure. It’s one boy and his dog who deserve more time together.