All dogs have incredibly close relationships with their parents, but therapy dogs, and their people, are entwined in ways that we traditional pups admire and are a little jealous over. Therapy dogs get to go everywhere with their parents and are often the first soul humans turn to during dark times.
They have earned this role. These pups train intensely and have to always be on their best behavior while quelling the instincts that rule us and bring trouble. I don’t know if I could do it. While I would want to be with my mom all the time, I would miss being a free spirit who can bark at people, go to them with tail wagging, and steal attention. Of course, the closer the relationship, and the love that is sparked by it, means more pain when one of the pair moves to the Bridge.
Teardrops, in the form of rain, fall at the Bridge when a new angel gets their detachable wings. When it is a therapy dog who crosses, those drops become a monsoon that can continue for days.
This weekend when the vast clouds rolled in, and tears began to fall, we knew a vital therapy dog was arriving. I checked the incoming dogs’ list and felt my heartbreak: Mickey would soon be joining us. On the mortal side, he was the beloved therapy dog sharing his life with our dear friend Jodi Kohen-Pike.
He was the constant in Jodi’s life, always with her and right at her side when she needed help both physically and emotionally. All the time, Jodi and Mickey were together, they were never tired of one another’s company. If anything, it made them want to be together more and made their parting extremely painful.
The Dementor angels who summon stubborn dogs to the Bridge had tried to force Mickey to leave his mom’s side, finally struck him down with seizures, one at home, and another at the vet. It was clear to Jodi that Mickey had given her every ounce of his devotion, and now was the time to relieve him of his duties, at least in corporal form. He would forever be her devoted angel the moment she crossed the river. Therapy dogs are for life.
As soon as Mickey crossed the Bridge, he was determined to forgo the greetings with friends, Jodi’s angels who preceded him, and even me tasked with giving him the angel oath. When we insisted that Mickey had to follow the rules, at least briefly, his training kicked in, and he stood respectfully as I officially swore him in as an angel.
There is a difference between being a mortal therapy dog and an immortal one, and Mickey was determined to his job correctly, so I helped him find an angel therapy training course. The lessons usually take weeks. A determined Mickey passed all the courses on a weekend and got an A.
Sadly, unless the moon is aligned correctly with the stars and the light is just right, Jodi will not see that Mickey is still protecting her. If she notices that she barely avoided misfortune or something good breaks her way, hopefully, she will understand that it is the excellent work of the Mickey Protection Program.
There is no substitute for being with the one you love, but if you can still keep them safe, even without them realizing, then you can genuinely call yourself a devoted angel.
I can imagine someday when Jodi and is reunited with her beloved dog, that the Mickey Protection Program becomes something he can teach the angel to better the lives of parents everywhere. Rainbow Bridge and mortal parents will be better off for it.