Read this amazing story of how one dog, Bria, shows us that dogs understand our feelings by comforting a grieving stranger without a single word spoken between them. Also, learn how this dog found her life’s true purpose as a therapy dog with the help of a friend.

Bria, a two-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, had been adopted by her human mom Connie only a few months before. Now they were both waiting in the reception area of the veterinarian’s office for Bria’s routine checkup when Connie saw a man on the other side of the room who looked extremely sad. The man was holding his head in his hands as his head hung down while he stared at the floor. Bria saw the man too. What happened next truly surprised and amazed Connie. Suddenly, Bria strongly yanked on her leash and pulled Connie across the room to the man. Somehow Bria knew the man needed her. When Bria arrived by the man’s side, Bria laid her giant head on the man’s lap. Bria never moved, and stayed by the man’s side. With Bria there to help the man with his sadness, the man was able to let himself cry. Connie left Bria alone with the man so that he could grieve. Connie later found out that the man had just put his own dog to sleep.

How did Bria understand the  man’s grief and know how to comfort him? There was not a single word spoken between them. Yet there was a deep connection in the simple act of Bria laying her head on the man’s lap, showing caring, comfort, and love. As every dog lover knows, a dog can sense our emotions and provide love and comfort, which is why a dog is humankind’s best friend. Bria is proof that dogs understand our feelings.

When Connie saw how caring Bria was to a total stranger in the vet’s office, Connie knew that Bria could be a wonderful therapy dog and help others as well. Therapy dogs are dogs who are trained to provide affection, comfort and love to people in hospitals, retirement homes, schools, disaster areas, and many other people in need. Here is the rest of the story of how Connie and Bria came to know one another and how Bria’s true destiny of being a therapy dog was fulfilled.

Both Connie and Bria met through the Guide Dogs for the Blind. Connie was a volunteer for the program, and Bria was a student enrolled in the program training to become a guide dog. However, since Bria was easily distracted, which is not a good trait for a guide dog, Bria was redirected into another program—Dogs for Diabetics. Bria completed that training too; however, this time, Bria’s personality was unfortunately not a good match.  Bria is very confident, relaxed, and lazy!  These are not great traits for a working dog. However, they are excellent traits for both a pet and a therapy dog. Bria just needed somebody to recognize it. And somebody did—Connie.

Connie had been wanting to adopt a dog. She decided to apply to adopt a “career change” dog from Guide Dogs for the Blind. Career change dogs are dogs who do not become guide dogs because they do not pass the extremely high standards for skills or behavior. Yet, these dogs are still very talented and well-trained. They are lovingly called “career change” dogs, and many of these dogs go on to have different careers that assist people and communities in a wide variety of service roles. Some of these dogs may become members of a K9 Buddy Program for youth who are visually impaired. Others may go outside of Guide Dogs for the Blind to jobs such as search and rescue, medical alert work, therapy dogs, or to loving homes as pets.

Connie was anxiously waiting for a career change dog when the program found the perfect fit for Connie’s family and lifestyle—namely Miss Bria! Connie adopted Bria as a pet, but after seeing Bria’s natural talent for comforting the grieving man in the vet’s office, she knew that Bria would be a great therapy dog. Connie started the process of working with Bria to pass the “Canine Good Citizen Test,” as well as both the basic and advanced levels of obedience training. But even with all of that training, would Bria be able to pass the test for a therapy dog? Connie knew that there were only two opportunities a year for the test. At the next available opportunity, Connie entered Bria into the testing and interview process. And this time, Bria passed with flying colors. Today, Bria is a therapy dog with Valley Humane Society’s Canine Comfort Program.

This story started with the love and devotion of a dog, but it is also a story about finding one’s true purpose in life. Bria had two career changes before discovering the best match for her talents was a therapy dog. When we are discovering our true destiny, sometimes learning what we are not good at is just as important as learning what we are good at. Our life’s purpose can be an amazing journey. However, there can be difficult and confusing hurdles along the way. But approaching our journey not with a spirit of fear, but instead with a spirit of courage, love, faith, and drive to not give up will help us to arrive at our true calling. Thanks Connie and Bria. You have once again proved that we can learn a lot from dogs.