In the last couple of decades, I have rescued two dogs.  One was a tiny puppy, the other a nineteen month old.  Despite the age difference, both dogs knew they had been rescued.  My guess is that every rescued dog understands this.  And here’s the miracle, both dogs, on their own, became service dogs.

The little puppy. a pit bull mix we named Dexter, grew up and elected himself to be the first service dog on record for Crohn’s disease.  The rescued teen, a Border collie mix we named Monk, was adopted as a playmate for my service dog, Sky.  As soon as he came to live with us, he attached himself to my husband, Steve, and began to help him with the side effects of radiation for prostate cancer.

Each rescued dog became a service dog for someone who had never had one before, someone who had no thought a dog could help with their disability.  In each case, therefore, no specific tendencies or traits were sought and initially, no reinforcement was given, at least not consciously or intentionally.  Instead, each rescued dog saw a need and gracefully filled it, quietly doing some things we could understand and other things we, as mere humans, could not.

So I have to ask myself, is it only humans who are capable of feeling gratitude?  Or can dogs feel it, too?