This is the story of Lexi, a rescued golden retriever, who I adopted in 2009. She was two years old and suffering from extreme separation anxiety and a fear of men. It was during this same time that my mother, who had dementia, was living with me. During the day, my mother attended an adult day care center.
When at home, I noticed how Lexi interacted with my mother in a gentle, loving way. She seemed to have an innate ability to sense when my mother was getting anxious or agitated and would then snuggle up to her, which always had a calming effect.
It was during this time that I realized the special gifts that Lexi possessed, those of compassion and a calming disposition. I decided that I wanted to give back to others what Lexi gave to my mother, so I researched what Lexi needed to do to become a therapy dog.
I signed Lexi up to take her therapy dog test and she passed with flying colors. We became a registered team with Pet Partners in 2012.
As a way of giving back, Lexi and I began visiting the same adult day care center
which my mother attended. We would visit with many people
who were in various stages of dementia. I remember one lady who would
not speak until Lexi came to visit. It was so rewarding to watch Lexi
“do her thing” and the smiles that she brought to the faces of so many people.
The following year, I decided to see if Lexi had what it took to become a crisis
response dog. We tested together with HOPE Animal - Assisted Crisis Response,
and once again, she passed the rigorous testing with flying colors. Following an
extensive 3 day training program, Lexi and I became a certified team in October 2013.
The first time we were deployed for a disaster was in April 2014, following the mudslide in Oso, Washington. Our job was to comfort the first responders, National Guard and families who had lost family or friends during this disaster. As always, Lexi brought a smile and comfort to those who were affected by this tragedy.
Lexi and I worked together on many other disasters. In September 2015, we traveled to northern California, where we worked with the firemen and the survivors of the wildfires, including many who lost their homes during this disaster. Once again, Lexi happily gave back to the community.
A few years ago, Lexi was diagnosed with melanoma in her paw. She went through surgery and radiation and continued with her therapy work.
One day we were at a vet appointment and met a family with a very sick dog that needed surgery. Unfortunately, the family couldn’t afford to have the procedure done. Lexi and I approached the family and offered to pay half of the surgical fee
if the family was willing to pay the rest. The dog had surgery the next day and he continues to do well.
And that’s how Lexi’s Legacy was born.
Sadly, Lexi passed away in July 2018, but her legacy continues through this foundation – a foundation for giving.