Sheri Levy and Her Life with Service Dogs

Growing up in Southern California, allowed me to go to the beach, and snow ski on the local mountains.

After I married and had two young children, we moved to South Carolina. We have lived longer in the South than in California. I guess that makes me a southerner, without an accent!

Working Career

I received my Special Education teaching credentials in California, one for Mentally Handicapped and the other for Educationally Handicapped.
As soon as we arrived in Greenville, S.C, I was offered a job with a Multi- Handicapped class in the same school my children attended. But I needed one more credential for Learning Disabilities. Once again, I attended evening classes twice a week and taught school during the day.

After sixteen years with Special Needs children, I taught an adult GED program for nine more years. My adults needed skills in reading and writing, and this spurred my interest in writing. As a young student, I always spent time writing, but had I never thought about writing novels.

As I taught my students, the desire to write began to fester. After I retired, I took online classes and joined SCBWI- (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.)

Adopting the First Dog

My husband and I adopted a neighbor’s German shepherd. She was our first dog, and the reason we had more dogs.

When Charlie died, we raised an eight-week-old White shepherd, and then our first Australian shepherd, Sydney.

When Sydney was six months old, a Black lab blew into our yard during a snow storm. He had been injured, and after paying the medical bills, he became ours. Sydney and Jake enjoyed many adventures together.

When both passed on, we continued with the Aussie breed. We now have Aussie number three and four; Mulligan, rescued at seven months old, and Slater, chosen at eight-weeks-old.

I trained each dog, but Mulligan required the most attention because of his stressful puppyhood.

Service dogs

My interest in special needs prompted me to research service dogs.

One afternoon, I met a young boy walking his dog who wore a cape in the grocery store. Because I had researched service dogs, I assumed he was a puppy raiser. I asked his mother for permission to speak with him, and I found out the dog was his own Diabetic Alert service dog.

I interviewed him and wrote my first article for Clubhouse Magazine and entered this story in the Dog Writers Association Contest in 2010. To my surprise, the story won in their Special Interest Category. This category was sponsored by the Planet Dog Foundation Sit. Speak. Act. Canine Service organization. This award gave me the confidence to continue writing.

 Plot-line for Seven Days Through Research

My craving to write blossomed. I had taught children with autism, and found a reputable service dog organization, PAALS, close to my home.

A young girl, who worked as a puppy raiser with PAALS, allowed me to interview her. Her information helped create my story character and plot.

The setting takes place on my favorite beach, Edisto Beach, S.C., and I included Sydney. “Seven Days to Goodbye,” was born.

I support PAALS, and they promote my novels. It took three years from the start of writing of, “Seven Days to Goodbye,” to getting it published and entered in the DWAA contest. The novel won in their Special Interest Category in 2014.

Learning how to market the novels and promote myself. 

Writing is the fun part. Marketing is very time consuming. I have been very fortunate to have support from friends and readers.

Having wonderful reviews has built my confidence. It does take a while after the first book is birthed to see success trickle out over time. All of the wonderful feedback has been very positive and encouraging.

One of my biggest thrills was to be asked to do a motivational Skype program with three high schools in Nigeria. Weeks later, I began teaching writing to different age classes. It is special to know I may be helping others.

To this day, I am thrilled to be able to share my series, ‘Seven Days to Goodbye,’ ‘Starting Over,’ and very soon to introduce, ‘For Keeps.’

 You can stay in touch with Sheri Levy at: 

Twitter: @SheriSLevy

Facebook: www.sherislevyauthor

Website: www.sherislevy.com

Email: eightpawswriting@yahoo.com

Seven Days to goodbye‘ and ‘Starting Over‘ by Sheri S. Levy are available on Amazon in paperback, hardback, and Kindle Editions.

 

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A Service Dog to the Rescue

A Service Dog to the Rescue

 By Sheri S. Levy

Kathy, sobbed on the phone. “Logan’s missing! My husband’s golfing and hasn’t returned my call.”

“I’m on my way.” I filled my pouch with treats and snapped his water bottle to my belt. “Let’s go, Syd.”

Kathy stood out front, waving her arms.

Sydney and I bolted from the car. I held her hand as she blubbered information. “Logan had a meltdown when his brothers left to play golf. With his autism, there’s no way Logan can sit in a golf cart all morning.”

I clasped my hands together, easing my tension. “I’ve only played hide and seek with Sydney. He’s a service dog in training, not a search and rescue dog. But Logan and Sydney have made such a strong connection on the beach, Syd may be able to find Logan. But you’ll need to stay here.”

Kathy’s eyes widened.

I touched her shoulder. “You have to be here in case he comes home or someone calls.”

She sobbed. “I’ll go crazy, waiting.”

A load of gravel hit the pit of my stomach, one stone at a time. “Will Logan get in the water?”

She shook her head. “Not without his life jacket. He may walk a long way and forget how to get home. He doesn’t know his phone number and can only say his first name.”

Relieved, I smiled. “That’s good, he won’t get in the water. Can you give me an item he wears? Sydney needs his scent.”

As I clicked-on Syd’s vest, his amber eyes brightened and his lips spread into a grin. He was on duty.

Kathy rushed over, carrying Logan’s ball cap and spoke in spurts. “I’m surprised he…ran off without… this.” She gasped. “He doesn’t like… the sun in his eyes.”

“That’s perfect.”

I held Logan’s ball cap up to Sydney’s nose. “Find, Logan.”

He inhaled the scent, backed up, jiggled his stub, and shoved his nose again into the cap. That was his signal, “I know what you want me to do.”

“Good boy, Syd. Find, Logan.”

I let him run, getting his bearings. He lunged into the bushes behind Logan’s house, and then circled the sea grass in the dunes. As he dashed toward the water, his nostrils opened and closed level with the sand, and then he made a U-turn. Racing on dry sand, he sniffed his way up the coast. After each inspection, Sydney woofed. Logan would recognize Syd’s bark and come running.

If he heard. Or if he could? Shivers ran up my neck.

High tide moved down, leaving no foot-prints, no trail of food, and no way to know which way Logan might have gone.

Before heading up a wooden path, I returned the cap to Syd’s nose. “Find, Logan.”

We repeated checking the dunes, and under each house, block after block.  After an hour and a half, I said, “Down,” in someone’s empty carport. Syd panted heavily and rested. Once his breathing slowed, we shared a bottle of water.

What if Logan knocked at someone’s door, and they took him in. My insides shuddered. What if we can’t find him? I wiped my damp face.

Kathy phoned. “My sons are going door to door. And my husband contacted the island police. They’re patrolling the streets.” She took a long breath. “This is the longest he’s ever been gone.”

My voice squeaked out. “So, he’s done this before?”

“Twice. He’s never gone very far, but each time it’s happened, he’s walked a little farther.”

“Did he have a special hiding spot?”

She whispered, “No.”

My chest tightened. “We’ll find him. He’s getting older. I bet he’s just found a better hiding place.”

“Okay, Syd. Find, Logan.” He turned in circles, excited to be back on the job. When we reached the pier, I said a prayer. Maybe he’s up there watching the seagulls, or looking for dolphins.

As I looked left, despair swallowed any relief. On the other side of the pier, strangers camped in tents or in trailers at the State Park.

We scoured every corner of the pier and restaurant. My stomach quivered with no sign of Logan.

Collapsing on the pier, I sat crossed-legged. My hands covered my face and I cried. Sydney put his nose under my arms, lifting my hands to lick the dripping tears.

I looked into his tired eyes. “You need a rest.” We walked down the stairs, and I undid his vest.

Sydney dashed at the small waves, popping the white bubbles in the foam. I didn’t care if he got wet. He was free to relax.

The sun blazed, making the sand too hot for bare feet. I worried about Sydney’s feet, and then Logan’s. Would he look for shade?

Five minutes later, I strapped-on Syd’s vest and lifted Logan’s cap to his nose.

“Find, Logan.”

He turned in circles, wiggled his rear end, and darted to the dunes. Then he put his nose close to the sand, sniffing like a hound dog. Chills traveled up my body. He was onto something. It better not be a fish.

Sydney tramped up to a tree in someone’s backyard, turned around and circled me like he was saying, “Hurry up.”

“What do you smell, Syd.”

He barked and showed me foot prints. They were small, bare feet.

“Okay. Show me.”

Sydney sniffed the ground. I followed. He circled the dune once more and followed footprints from the ocean to the trees. He wouldn’t move forward.

“What is it Syd?”

I glanced between the dune and the trees. Steps to someone’s house, painted sky-blue, had disguised a three-sided outdoor shower under the wooden steps. An ocean-blue plastic shower curtain decorated with colored fish closed the opening. Syd crept towards the shower stall.

I pressed my lips together. Could Logan be inside? Was he hurt?

Sydney stood at attention. “Good boy.”

Syd’s body squirmed, making an indention in the sand with his bottom.

I slid the curtain back, an inch at a time. There was a small bench on the back wall and shaded by the tree. Sleeping with one arm under his head and one arm hanging off the ledge, Logan breathed, peacefully. He had no idea of the ordeal he had begun.

My eyes teared. Face to face with Sydney, I whispered, “Good Boy. You have the honor of waking him.”

Sydney’s eyes sparkled. He slinked in, put his nose under Logan’s limp arm and licked his cheek.

Logan’s eyes opened. He squealed, “Syd-ney. Syd-ney. Want see.” Logan sat, lifting his beaming face, showing two missing teeth on the top and on the bottom.

I snatched Logan’s hand and said, “Sydney, home.”

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