We all know what dogs do. We take care of our humans right up to the day we pass over to Rainbow Bridge, and then after that. Some of us are therapy dogs, and their humans depend on them even greater than our parents depend on us.
Cody Joss, on the night of his high school graduation, never thought he would be in need of a therapy dog. He was partying with friends in Cancun Mexico. He became separated from them and cornered by a group of men with ill intent. To escape Cody tried to jump over a privacy wall. His back foot got caught, and he fell head first on to the cement. He knew he was paralyzed when he hit the ground. In fact, he had broken his neck. He could not walk and only had limited use of his arms. He went to a rehabilitation facility in Atlanta where he learned to eat, drive a wheelchair and get ready for work.
Cody had a dog trainer friend who introduced him to Cody's new therapy dog Wrigley. Cody attended the University of Tennessee where not only did Wrigley help him retrieve anything he dropped but helped him socially acting as an icebreaker to bring new friends into Cody’s world. For the first time in his life, Cody knew the love and affection of a dog. “Sometimes, I’d leave without him, and I’d see how excited he would get when I came home,” he said. “That’s when I really knew it was love.”
Cody brought Wrigley with him to his job at Bridgestone in Nashville. His slender friend soon became plump, and Josh learned that over 30 co-workers were slipping Wrigley treats every day. Wrigley never said a word.
After working together for ten years, Wrigley suffered a stroke. Cody repaid the kindness by sending his best friend to the Bridge. The Bridgestone family reacted like a member of their family had passed away. Any mention of Wrigley would cause Cody waves of anguish.
When Wrigley reached the Bridge, he knew Cody needed a new therapy dog. He checked the Internet and was stunned to find out it would cost almost $20,000 to replace himself. Wrigley developed a two pronged plan. First, he went in the dreams of Cody’s coworkers and implanted the idea that they would raise the money to get Cody a new best friend. Then he began searching for that dog. He found him: In prison.
At the Turney Center Correctional Institute, an inmate named Robert joined a program to train dogs. His last trainee, Zoom, had just left for a new home. Robert was brought out to the yard with the other trainers. A Golden Retriever named Mack chose Robert. For 18 months Robert taught Mack to obey over 200 commands, hand signals, and voice prompts. As graduation approached, Robert knew that he would be separated from the only soul who showed him love at the facility, but also knew his hard work would go to good use.
At Bridgestone Cody’s co-workers organized a wake for Wrigley. At the end of the wake, they told him that they, along with the Bridgestone company, had raised the money for a new therapy dog for Cody. They said his dog was currently being trained at the Turney Center and when the dog was ready Cody could pick him up.
The day Cody was due to pick his dog Wrigley popped into Mack’s dreams and told him to pick Cody as his new person. That is exactly what Mack did. After talking with Robert about Mack, Cody knew he had his new best friend. On Friday Mack left Robert’s care and went to his forever home at Cody’s house.
Robert was very moved by Cody’s story and as happy Mack was going to a deserving owner who would love him as much as Robert did.
And soon Robert will be brought a new dog to train and a new story will begin.