Weekends with Daisy by Sharron Kahn Luttrell
Sharron is going through dog withdrawal after her beloved Tucker passes. Everywhere she goes she notices dogs, but one really transfixes her, a service dog in training who is with its weekend handler in of all places the grocery store. She follows the handler to the checkout where she finds out about the NEADS (National Education for Assistance Dog Services) program.
NEADS trains puppies using incarcerated individuals and weekend handlers (non-incarcerated) to train a dog to be a future assistant to a deaf or disabled person. The pair work as a team, the prisoner is responsible for the day to day care and the majority of the training. The weekend handler reinforces the dog’s training and exposes them to real life situations.
Once home she immediately researches NEADS and fills out the application to become a weekend handler, attends training, and is assigned to Jones a Standard Poodle who has an intense prey drive and flunks out of the program.
Sharron is then assigned to work with Daisy, a yellow Labrador, and her inmate Keith. Sharron has to fight her desires to just play with Daisy and treat her like her own pet. She even considers how wonderful it would be to have Daisy as a pet, which would be possible if she flunked out of the program. However, Sharron realizes this would not only shatter Keith, but undermine her own reasons for participating in the program. Together Sharron and Keith produced a NEADS graduate who is loved by her client and anyone who comes in contact with Daisy.
Sharron used her experience with Daisy to better learn how to relate to her children, strangers, and someone that is incarcerated.
This is a delightfully simple story that produces an insightful look into the hope an animal gives when people choose to love and let go.
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