Maestro — Therapy

Charity Partner: Hand in Paw
Location: Needham, Massachusetts

Beyond images of pets heroically waking up sleeping owners in burning houses, there are also heroes of everyday life. My dog Maestro and I work with homeless addicts at Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, where we encounter good people in the throes of catastrophic circumstances. The harshness of addiction and life on the streets leaves scars on the inside and outside, but when these broken people burrow their heads into Maestro’s silky fur—and Maestro sighs and leans into them—they are afforded the tangible weight of unconditional love. Maestro does not care what anyone smells like or where they’ve been or what they’ve done. Maestro is unconcerned by relapse or failure, and his non-judgmental presence almost always causes something tiny but powerful to miraculously bloom as people hold his big head in their laps and stroke his velvety ears. A look comes over their faces . . . rapture? Childhood memories of safety and belonging? A sense of God’s love?

Maestro’s ability to unlock such heart-felt reactions feels powerfully life-saving; I have lost count of the number of people later say that Maestro gave them hope when they had none, and gave them love when they felt unlovable. This gentle dog is balm that renews hope through visceral touch, testament that there is yet goodness remaining in the world. In the life and death struggles we witness every day, I know I am witnessing the remarkable grace of a true American hero.

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