On September 18, 2011, we rescued a 1-year-old Brittany Spaniel that we call Lady. We immediately realized that the first year of Lady's life had not been filled with love and affection. It quickly became our goal to make sure she always knew she was a part of the family. We could not have imagined that her presence in our family would change our lives for the better. You see, Lady’s rescue came just six months after I, age 42 at the time, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Anyone can imagine that a cancer diagnosis comes with increased stress, anxiety and tension. Well, Lady obviously knew that, too. She was right there, being cute and cuddly, and sometimes super-silly. She always knows how to make us smile. I had my third surgery, a right-sided total mastectomy, on October 5, 2011, just two weeks after Lady’s arrival. When I got home from the surgery, Lady didn’t leave my side. She sat with me and watched a lot of daytime television. When people would come to visit, she would strategically place herself between my wound and the “stranger.” She listened to my worries, my fears and even my anger about having cancer. I had my own personal four-legged nurse, and I still do. I am also a type 1 diabetic. There are times when my sugar level goes low, and Lady knows before anyone. More than once she has woken me up in the middle of the night, and every time my sugar level has been below normal. Keep in mind that she has never been trained as a medical therapy dog. She just knows. Six-plus years later, I am cancer-free, and Lady’s position in the family is: house princess. She goes next door to my parents’ house when my husband and I are at work, and she is spoiled the entire time she is there. She knows that her adorable personality and cuteness will get her what she wants. She sits and gives me the “eye” until I move from her spot on the couch, or make more room for her on the bed. How did rescuing Lady change our lives? She is always showing us life through her eyes. Even when things seem horrible she manages to do something that makes it better. She shows us that we have her, and each other. With that, we can handle just about anything. I love this outlook on life. Lady really did rescue us, and I couldn’t imagine our family without her.
— Valerie Higgins, Westport, Massachusetts