August 1st marked an important day for Lily and me. It marked the second anniversary since I picked her up at Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Connecticut, to bring her here to live with us at Bridgvale Farm. She flew from Wisconsin to us on a leap of faith.
My dear friend and wonderful English Setter breeder Judi Hunter had emailed me about Lily. She thought Lily would make a great therapy dog. I trust Judi’s instincts. She sent me James and his sister Julia, and it was she and my good friend Eileen Hackett (superb professional show dog handler and longtime breeder of fine English Setters) who breed my beloved Phoebe. I was thrilled to have Judi entrust Lily with us and let her make her home here on Bridgvale Farm.
Lily was two years old when she arrived, and she was a challenge! Annabelle, the Senior Farm Scout was horrified as she stood listening to our new canine family scream – literally scream – at the baby birds in the nest by the side of the barn. Annie had been ever-so-quietly observing the babies since the parent birds had constructed the nest in the honeysuckle brush. Screaming has got to cease, Annie must have instructed Lily in canine language. Today, Lily has become Junior Scout under Annie’s tutelage. The pair spend countless hours together on the wooded hillside silently hunting for wild things.
On my part, Lily and I spent a year in intense training, building a strong bond between us. She loves to jump up on the grooming table where she is face-to-face with me, loving the one-on-one attention. We spent hours of time together riding in the car and going to all kinds of public places together for socialization. We attended manners classes and canine good citizen classes. All this in preparation for her career as a Bright Spot Therapy Dog.
Judi was right, of course. Judi knows her dogs. Today, celebrating two full years with us on Bridgvale Farm, Lily has evolved into an amazing Therapy Dog. Her forte is working with children as a Bright Spot Reading Buddy at the Westhampton Elementary School where first and second graders read their special books to her, one-on-one, each week. I am very proud of this wonderful dog. She knows how I feel. She can tell – and she’s a very happy dog!