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Max is my Sawtelle dog, a mix of purebred, soft-coated Wheaten terrier and sensitive, loving human being. In 2003, I lost my job. I managed to find some part-time work, but as a member of the Over 55 Club, it was hard. Perhaps it was time to give back. How? 

My beloved Great Dane had recently passed. With no canine BFF and an absence of colleague camaraderie, my mind-set as strong, self-confident, top-of-the-world woman was fighting the inevitable downward spiral of doing nothing and feeling worthless. So, on a day of deepening despair, I was invited to the home of a dog breeder. As I entered, I could hear the sound of puppies—everywhere, rollicking puppies! Balls of chestnut hair with dark moon-shaped faces. Such begins the life of a unique dog affectionately known as the "leprechaun of dogs." And so began my personal journey of returning to a life worth living. 

My host offered me a puppy then named Blue Boy, but only if approved by the puppy. I quietly waited as Blue Boy sniffed and played and interviewed me as only a puppy knows how to do. Finally, Blue Boy sat on my feet. I waited for his decision; he fell asleep. And with that simple act, Blue Boy said yes, and his acceptance was better than any job offer, promotion or position of human top dog. 

Now named Max, we grew up together—he from puppy to dog; me from taker to giver. We trained together and grew into an Animal Assisted Therapy dog team, visiting hospitalized children, challenged blind children, retired nuns, convalescing adults and beloved seniors. We energize caregivers, cheer hospital staff, calm anxious families, teach proper doggy behavior and help people not to fear dogs. 

Max is patient, oh-so-soft to pet and forever wagging his Christmas tree–shaped tail. Max is a true Sawtelle dog. His unique gift is the ability to give until he sleeps and wakes up to give again. He's taking me on his joyous journey through life, and I'm gratefully blessed to be along for the ride.

— Carole


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