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The Healing Power of Dogs In Our Lives

In a moving interview, Guideposts’ Editor-in-Chief and Good Morning America host Robin Roberts talk about the dogs they’ve loved.

Transcript

Guideposts Video: Inspiring True Stories

We are celebrating National Puppy Day, in case you can’t tell, with a look at the way dogs help us heal. Something author Edward Grinnan explores in his beautiful new memoir. It’s called “Always By My Side.” He is also the editor in chief of the inspirational magazine “Guideposts.” It’s a beautiful publication that has been a part of my family’s household for, well, as long as I can remember. And that’s why I was so honored to be on the cover with my dear Mom and to talk with Edward about the new book. And you’ll see that his beloved dog Gracie is always by his side. 

I didn’t know you could dance too, KJ. For nearly 18 years, my dear KJ, a Jack Russell, filled my life with joy. High five, high five. Yeah! The unbreakable bond between humans and dogs undeniable– 

You ready? 

–and at the heart of author Edward Grinnan’s moving new memoir, “Always By My Side.” What is it about animals, and dogs in particular? 

I think dogs, in my case at least, they’ve made me a better person. You know, I think I’m training them. But what they’re doing is teaching me. 

Each dog that you’ve been blessed to have in your life has been there for a purpose. 

Throughout my life, at every pivotal moment, there was one dog at my side that was there for a reason. 

Moments not unlike the spring night Edward met his now wife, Julie. 

I was just walking along when I saw this wonderful Cocker Spaniel. And I happened to mention it was the fattest Cocker Spaniel I’d ever seen. That came out of my mouth. I regretted it instantly. I thought this person is going to run away from me. But the dog didn’t. Rudy came trundling over, and he pulled Julie over. And that’s how we met. He was Cupid with a little tail. 

Edward says our four legged friends have an uncanny ability to teach us what we can’t teach ourselves, build bridges between humans, and help us heal. Tell us about Millie. 

Millie came into my life at a time when I was going through some difficult things, and so was Julie, including loss of her mother, loss of my mother. You get up in the morning, and immediately, your worries begin to fill your head. And Millie would be sitting there saying, “Oh, no. This is going to be another fantastic day of life.” She would take me outside, and she would say hello to all the neighbors. 

There was a street person named Maurice who used to hang out in one of the doorways. And Maurice, he didn’t relate that well to people, but he related to her. We tried to give him food, or I tried to give him a bottle of water, and he wouldn’t have it. So I taught Millie to take a bottle of water from the deli and bring it to him. And he took it from her. 

Millie reminds me a lot of my KJ. Jack Russell. She passed away after almost 18 years. I lost my parents, lost my health. When I lost my dog– 

Oh. I know. 

Woo! I waited a little time after KJ. We did a rescue with North Shore. We wanted the dog to pick us, and Lucas really did. 

Well, that’s the thing about loving dogs, Robin. People will ask me, well, how come you take on that heartache every six, seven, 10, 15 years? And it’s because I know that there’s a dog out there that needs to be loved. And I don’t have any right to say no to that. It was so hard. It was so difficult to say goodbye to Millie. But she taught me acceptance, and she taught me letting go and moving on. 

Lessons of unconditional love from man’s best friend. 

This is a book for people who have loved dogs in a way that they never expected. And I want to tell them that there are others like you out there. And if you find that there are certain days of your life when your dog is the most important thing, this is who I wrote the book for. 

You’re not alone. 

[LAUGHS] You are not alone. 

You’re not alone. 

[BARKING] 

Aw. And we’re not alone. We’re not alone right now. The dog bit was by Edward’s side was Gracie. It’s actually her birthday today. She’s two years old. 

Oh, happy birthday, Gracie. 

Here in the studio, the puppies have taken over. We’ve got our own little production assistants with us. Yeah. And take a look at the control room. Yep. 

[LAUGHS] 

I knew it. I knew there was something different in there. They’ve been so quiet. But again, the North Shore Animal League. We thank them so much. 

Oh, yeah. 

And you know, that book really helped me. And we know. 

Oh, yeah. 

You remember? 

Yeah. 

But it’s not like you’re replacing the one that’s– 

Not at all. 

[INTERPOSING VOICES] 

Something smells good in there, Robin. 

[LAUGHTER] 

But it’s just realizing that you have room in your heart to love. 

To grow. 

To grow. 

Absolutely. 

Yeah. 

[MUSIC PLAYING] 

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