"...A dog can wag its tail but a dog needs more than that. Just like a person needs a purpose, a dog needs a purpose too. We don’t feel good when we are just taking up space. Grady had been a successful therapy dog many years before. We all need to be successful at something for as long as we live.
One of our friends was a veteran rescue dog from the World Trade Center. He had many stories about rescuing people from the wreckage. We learned a lot from him. He told us that when the buildings went down many rescue workers arrived on site, including specially trained dogs from all over the country. He was one of them. The mission of the dogs was to find survivors and victims. All too soon the unfortunate time came when no more could be found. At this point many of the dogs became listless and depressed.* They refused to eat or drink. They failed to thrive. They did not feel the desire to live because they were simply not able to fulfill their purpose. Being able to do something we’re good at prolongs our life and promotes our sense of well-being.
If we don’t have a job to do, a task to accomplish, or someone to serve on a regular basis we will create our own opportunities. We will chase lizards and rabbits, obsess about squirrels and other mammals, bark at everyone who passes by or rearrange the rugs in the house. We can always find something to do if our humans don’t need us or provide us with work to do..."
May we never forget those we lost and what we learned.
* What we did not choose to share in our book came from a reliable source at Ground Zero. The only way to keep the rescue dogs on task and moving forward when no more casualties could be found was to replant body parts and scents in the rubble so the dogs could continually have a measure of success. Success is everything to a true service dog. Much like humans, when we "retire" we need another job to do or we lose our momentum for living.