The journey began one Halloween evening when Lisa Edwards, of Kent Cliffs, NY, left her home in search of candy. As she approached a pet shop, she saw a box of abandoned puppies under a sign that read: "Puppies $49.99." "The last thing I needed was another dog, but something compelled me to go into the store and check out the pups playing," recalls Lisa. "One little guy constantly bumped into walls and couldn't steady his feet while being tumbled around by his litter mates. Something about this little black Lab mix with his bewildered brown eyes struck a chord in my heart. I guess you can say I saw a bit of myself in Boo. When he snuggled, helpless, against me, I knew he was meant to be mine."
Thinking that the little clumsy lab mix would make a great companion for her terminally ill brother, Lisa took the dog home and tried to train him. "The klutzy dog proved to be the dunce of obedience class, often bumping into things due to his poor eyesight and clumsy gait. I almost gave up until one day when I discovered his true calling."
One day during a visit at a crowded store, the little dog, now named Boo, dragged Lisa over to two little girls who were shopping with their mother on the next aisle. As the excited little girls grabbed and pulled at the little canine, Boo stood patiently and it was at that moment that Lisa knew Boo's calling. He would make a perfect therapy dog.
Lisa says that over the years, the little dog has been able to connect with people who failed to respond to other therapies. "He reaches people on a much deeper level, bringing quiet changes that last a lifetime." Just ask April Oliviere about Boo's power of healing. Her 6-year-old son Marc suffered from selective mutism and did not talk. He was unable to talk to his mother at home and did not communicate at school. His mother enrolled him in several different types of speech and behavioral therapies which failed to help. Then one day, Boo and Lisa visited his class. Lisa explained to the class that something was wrong with Boo's brain, that he had poor eyesight, and that he was a very slow learner. The children in Marc's class made the connection that Boo had disabilities, just like them.
As each child began to pet Boo, it was Marc who had the most amazing reaction. As the little boy petted Boo and rubbed his face against the dog's fur, Marc mouthed the words, "Good boy." When he returned home, his mother could see that he was bursting with excitement. When she asked him about his day, Marc whispered "Boo." The shocked mother listened as Marc blurted out, "I petted him! I brushed him! I love him!" With that, the little boy ran to his bedroom, grabbed his stuffed dog, and acted out the entire therapy session. April was speechless – from joy. "It was so amazing I couldn't believe my ears," she recalls. "It was as if a door had opened and we could finally see what was inside. Thank goodness for Boo—that dog is a miracle worker."
Calling him a "miracle worker," Edwards said Boo had transformed her life as well, because "fate sends us the animals we need in our lives." She believes that dogs have a special place on earth: "Just like children, dogs are who they are. Our job is not to pigeon-hole them but to say, 'Who are you going to be when you grow up?' Boo has been a moving tribute to the power of animals and their desire to heal and enrich our lives."