When I retired a few years ago from teaching, I was eager to slow down, and I figured I would know what I was supposed to do next when the time came. One day, I had an epiphany. I love my dog, a 5 pound Yorkie, and I spent 30 years as a special education teacher. If I combined the two, what better way to legitimize spending all day with my dog? When I first thought about Lola becoming a therapy dog, I was told that she was probably too little and probably not suitable. I am glad that I didn’t listen, because she is very good at her job.
Lola and I had been visiting a preschool program for children with Autism. She and I would greet the children during circle time, and then I would read to them. I realized how much more impact it would have for the children if they heard a story about the dog that was right in front of them.
I looked on-line and in bookstores, but I couldn’t find anything that had a dog that looked like Lola. I also knew that, for children on the spectrum, photographs would be more meaningful than illustrations. I decided to create my own book!
I had never written a story book, nor was I very good with a camera, but the children were my inspiration and Lola was a willing participant with a little help from doggie treats and string cheese. It started out as a home project, but with guidance and encouragement, the original plan turned into a wonderful writing adventure for both of us.
Lola’s first story, Lola Goes to Work, A Nine -to -Five Therapy Dog, is about a dog who was told that she was too little to have the job she wanted. It is about having a dream and having to work hard to achieve it. She could have given up, but instead she worked extra hard to prove that she had the right stuff to be a therapy dog, even if she was small. Lola’s story not only shows how she made her big dog dreams come true, but also how helping others makes you feel good inside. It is a story about believing you can do something, working hard to achieve it, and making a difference.
Lola Goes to the Doctor is the second in the series. Lola is nervous about going to the doctor, as most children are, and especially fearful about getting a shot. She reminds herself that the doctor’s office is full of fun toys as well as the opportunity to meet other animal friends waiting for their visit. She meets a big dog who doesn’t seem afraid at all and she wants to be brave just like the big dog. At the end of the visit she is excited to come back for her appointment next year. I hope that children will identify with Lola’s worries, but also with her bravery, and will feel better about their next visit to the doctor.
Lola and Tattletale Zeke is the latest addition to the series. In this book Lola’s little brother Zeke really likes to tattle on Lola. All this tattling makes Lola very upset. How do you deal with tattletales? When do you need to tell? Lola tires to help Zeke learn the difference between telling to keep someone safe and tattling to get someone in trouble. Zeke finally begins to understand, with a lot of messes along the way, especially after Isabel the cat tattles on him! Together, Lola and Zeke help children understand what tattling is and how it makes others feel.
There is an activity page for teachers and parents at the back of each book and a full curriculum guide for each story on the website. All three books are published by CRESTON BOOKS, Berkeley, California.
Lola is a five-pound Yorkshire Terrier who lives in California with her adoring owners. She is a proud certified therapy dog who makes weekly visits to elder care centers, bookstores and classrooms. She happily participated in the making of these books.
Marcia Goldman has her Master’s Degree in Special Education and has spent the last 30 years focusing on providing therapeutic-based programs for children with autism and their families.
You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or follow Lola on: Website at: http://www.marciagoldman.com.
Facebook at: LolaTheTherapyDog