Birthday Wishes for our Verona who is 12 years young. We have known her since 2009, when she was two years old. She guided me with focus and precision until age seven, at which time decided to let us know she didn’t want the job anymore. She comforted my clients during times of emotional pain, eased the physical pain of adults and children with pet-assisted therapy, and while she worked, was by my side for presentations and workshops.
Now she enjoys her retirement being a cherished pet and we couldn’t have chosen a more loving and intelligent dog. We love you, sweet Verona.
By Ann Chiappetta
I wait for the knock
Once it comes my life will change forever
Since I arrived
For two days and nights
For my entire life until now –
I sit on the bed
Wondering how it will feel an hour from now
And go numb with nerves
Question scroll across the marquee of my mind
What will she be like?
Will she like me, learn to love me?
The hot red letters of doubt scroll past
Can she guide me?
Will I be able to trust her?
Then the knock comes and my heart jumps
“Come in.” I say
Hoping I can open my heart with as much ease as the door.
I hear her nails click on the floor
I put out a hand, touch her head
She licks me, tail wagging
“Ann, this is Verona.” the trainer says
I don’t really know what to say or how to feel
But her presence soothes me
“Aren’t you a beautiful girl?” I coo as the trainer leaves
We sit on the floor together
The marquee of doubts vanishes
The blocky, red letters fade
Replaced by a message of calm, canine acceptance
Dressed in ebony
She settles her head in my lap
Each stroke of my hand
Strengthens the hope, quiets the fear
The questions dissipate with the knowledge
— Stroke by stroke —
That she is the one who will lead me
Black lab Verona’s face with snow on her nose.