A Dog with A Purpose

By Christopher Woods, May 2015

Teddy is very large, and very white. People ask how much he weighs – around 100 pounds - and how much he eats - not that much.

Teddy is a Great Pyrenees, a guardian dog breed used for centuries to protect livestock from wolves and other predators in northern Spain and Southern France. Before that, the breed came from Asia Minor, perhaps as long as ten thousand years ago. In the late 1600’s, Great Pyrenees were royal court dogs in France.

Teddy came to live with my wife Linda and me a few years ago. We adopted him from Texas Great Pyrenees rescue a statewide group that does tremendous work trying to help this special breed. Teddy was a rescue, and we learned that his earlier life had not been a good one, often kept in a crate for most of every day. In fact, his bottom front teeth were broken off while he struggled to get out of that crate. 

Living with Teddy has been an education. An extremely faithful friend, we learned how Pyrs also have a work ethic. Many Pyrs in Texas work on ranches where they protect sheep, goats and even geese. 

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Linda and I do not have sheep or goats, or geese for that matter. So we decided to train him as a therapy dog. The good people at Bellaire United Methodist Church sponsor a dog therapy group, Faithful Paws as one of their ministries. We and Teddy enrolled in the therapy class, and it wasn’t long before Teddy graduated.

With his gentle nature, Teddy makes a great therapy dog, visiting hospitals, nursing homes and schools. Maybe this is his true calling. I don't think he misses not having sheep and goats, and the occasional geese, to protect. He hasn’t complained yet.

His soft brown eyes look right into your own. I think he is an old soul who has seen much. He must have a very large heart. How else to explain his kindness when visiting so many people - children in hospitals, hospice patients, those afflicted with Alzheimer’s, or schools where he provides stress relief for those taking exams.

A few months after Teddy began his work as a therapy dog, I realized something. This large white dog, once a rescue, had found his true purpose, to bring a bit of light into the often dark corners of lives. I also realized something else. Teddy was taking us along on his journey, to places we would have never gone without him.

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