Rudy, an Italian Greyhound, worked with me for five years. He was a former puppy mill dog with a gift for comforting people. One of my most distinctive memories about Rudy is the time he helped me comfort a child in distress. As a social worker, I had to tell a 12-year-old child that her drug-addicted mother had relinquished her rights as a parent and was never coming back. I had to tell this child that her mother had abandoned her and that she would now be placed in foster care.
Of course, her first response was anger and violence, but then there were heart-wrenching tears. Rudy patiently waited for the rage to pass, and then he ran to her and placed his front legs around her neck. He licked away her tears and comforted her in a way no else could. Though he was not a trained therapy dog, he instinctively knew how to do the job. Rudy was my companion, my dear friend, my hero.