To understand the “environment” in which this story arrived into my life, I must digress a bit to explain our life at the time. We had moved to a beautiful lake property in Alabama, a place we came to recognize as our “retirement home,” not long before the spirit-writing of Why Dogs Are occurred. My husband had taken the position of Vice President of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB), an incredible institution with a national reputation. It housed individual schools for deaf, blind or multihandicapped children, an adaptive program for adults who found themselves losing their hearing or vision, a sheltered workshop for adult workers with blindness, and a statewide early intervention program for timely identification of very young children who needed such services and the beginnings of offering those services to parents.

We heartily joined in at the “gusto” level, realizing this job was no job—it was a calling that provided more to us than we gave to it. Working with children with special needs, parents and families adapting to challenges, and adults trying to forge a living and a life without letting a disability hamper them, brought rewards far in excess of, “it’s a job and it pays money.” About eight years later, I would come to work at AIDB and felt the experience to be the best of my entire working life.

So, it was no accident that the “dictated” story had recognizable characters and situations. We were living the scenario out daily and falling more in love with the children, the parents, the staff and their work ethic, and the institution’s values. While neither of us actually interacted with a student or a parent in our jobs, the extracurricular activities fostered in both of us a sense that we were a part of the effort to make the education of these special children our life’s challenge and responsibility.

The story, then, was a culmination of my almost daily feelings about a situation very close to my heart. How do parents or teachers of a child, who cannot see or hear, explain concepts that are so intangible that there is no way to express them easily?

Helen Keller’s education springboarded off her ultimate mastery of the concept of a hand sign her teacher used for something concrete—water. When she made the connection that the lines drawn into her hand meant the same thing as the liquid that quenched her thirst, her thirst for knowledge knew no bounds. She was, and remains, an exemplar for deaf and blind achievement still today.

Reading the story scrolled across my screen, I soon realized that the topic had been on my mind for a long time—I pondered how my parents would have ever been able to explain God and how to have a relationship with Him, how He loves us without condition, how He wants us to forgive others like He has forgiven us—how could they do that without sights or sounds? I can see and hear, yet I still don’t understand! The story in front of me gave a possible answer to the quandary, and made me happy that if there was a God, nothing was impossible for Him. The story actually gave me a foundation upon which to start believing that God was more than my version of Him.

While the story offered only one possible solution to the predicament I saw, this particular solution also involved my heart and soul—my love for dogs.

To me, dogs were and are simply magical, incredible beings. There is no way I can accept that they were cosmic accidents. My own experiences, plus those of others I have researched, convinced me that they are more of a helper to man than any other creature on Earth. If dogs aren’t in heaven, I’m not sure I want to go.