I very clearly remember watching the news as the events of the school shooting in Newtown, CT unfolded in December 2012. My own family had survived a tragedy that year when our home was destroyed by a tornado in February. Fortunately for us, I had been the only one home (along with our animals) as my kids were all at school and my husband at work.
By the time the Sandy Hook school shooting occurred, we had built a new home and moved in. We still had moving boxes scattered around and a garage full of totes containing items hastily recovered from the rubble of our former home. I remember trying to go through those totes and finding random items covered in debris and insulation, and how sometimes I would be cleaning these things and just want to cry for the irreplaceable items we’d lost, like the baby/toddler items I’d spent weeks immediately preceeding the tornado going through and paring down to what I wanted to save most, the pictures I’d collected and spent time labeling with the occasion they represented, the handmade Christmas ornaments the kids had made at school for me over the years.
I felt hopeless and helpless watching the news footage of the school and hearing stories of the children and teachers who lost their lives that day in Connecticut. And wondered how I might have survived if I had lost one of my own children during our tornado tragedy. Most of all, I remembered the apprehension I felt sending my kids off to school everyday after the Sandy Hook school shooting. Maybe it was because of the time of year it happened, but no school shooting before or since has affected me the way this one did. It seemed especially cruel that it happened at Christmastime, that time of year we are all supposed to be filled with love and joy.
The pages about Skylar the therapy dog affected me the most because we have a Golden Retriever, Charles, who was outside when the unexpected tornado hit our home earlier that year. He was lucky, he escaped with only one small scratch on his leg and he (along with our other dogs and cats) provided me with so much unconditional love and comfort in the days, weeks and months following that day. I found some comfort knowing that the children in Newtown had this same sort of comforting presence following their tragedy because the love of a dog is something special and unique. It is something that I cannot explain, how an animal can reach areas of a broken heart that even those close to you cannot.
The Dogs of Newtown was written by then 11-year-old Guy A. Bacon. He survived the Sandy Hook school shooting. His younger sister, 6-year-old Charlotte, however was not so lucky. The therapy dogs featured in the book are his favorites of the many service animals that visited his school daily for the remainder of the school year after the shooting. Their parents, Joel and JoAnn Bacon, have formed a foundation named Charlotte’s Litter that advocates for and supports appropriate therapy dog programs in educational and societal settings. In conjunction with award-winning author Renata Bowers, featuring true-to-life illustrations by Michael Chesworth, another book has been written. Good Dogs, Great Listeners: The Story of Charlotte, Lily and the Litter is a beautiful children’s book based in part on Charlotte’s life and adventures and embodies her curiosity and lively imagination in the adventures within the pages.
I encourage everyone to read these books and look into dog therapy programs in your area. They are wonderfully beneficial programs that need and deserve support from their communities. With the increasing frequency of public shootings and ever-present societal violence in the news, this is one community program that needs the support of all of us because at any time it could be any one of us who needs the love and support of dogs like Skylar.
Shop this title: Amazon
Disclaimer: I received the above shown book for free to facilitate review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.
© 2016, Beauty Brite. All rights reserved.