Voice on Fire Blog

Home of Lira the Amazing Pet Therapy Dog


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Lira and I walked into a dark hospital room despite the sunny day outside and gorgeous view of Mt. Rainier out the window.  The young woman in bed was barely old enough to NOT be in the Children’s hospital next door. She encouraged Lira up onto her bed excited to be able to interact with her. Her arm was bandaged so she petted Lira with one hand.  She seemed sweet, her light brown hair up in the back with curls framing her round face. We small talked for a bit and then out of nowhere she said she was a heroin addict. When the young woman said she was an addict it got me to thinking…

In my neighborhood we have had more than our fair share of burglaries lately.  When I called the police department they stated that it was probably addicts trying to support their habits.  I was curious how much it actually costs to support an addiction such as this.  She said she started out doing one gram a day but was up to five or six grams a day now.  “How much is a gram of heroin? “ I asked. “Thirty dollars “she said. “ So it costs you $150.00 a day to support your habit? “ “Yes but my boyfriend can get a discount,” she replied in a matter of fact kind of way. Geez I thought to myself, addicts rarely work or can’t work and it cost around $300.00 a day to support a couple’s habit? No wonder the neighborhood is getting annihilated lately. In fact one of my neighbors actually got stabbed three times a couple of weeks ago.  He saw a man breaking into a car in his alley and confronted him. He said the burglar didn’t care if he took him down meaning killing him or not. I live in a supposedly “good neighborhood.” Always call 911 and don’t confront these people. The burglar and attempted murderer got away. Meanwhile I’m observing this young woman petting Lira enjoying her very soft coat of yellow fur. That’s one thing I love about Lira and dogs everywhere… the love they share is totally unconditional and non judgmental.

The young heroin addict went on to describe for me how heroin comes in a tarry ball. Addicts put the gram of tar substance into a spoon and heat it from underneath to form a liquid. Then they put a needle through a cotton ball and into the liquid.“Why the cotton ball?” I ask. She stated that was to filter out bad stuff from the drug.  Ironic

This young adult has been doing heroin since she was 14 years old.  She was kicked out of her family home at 16 years old. Now at 19 she has a heroin addicted boyfriend who is 39 years old. They don’t have a home and sleep wherever they can.  At the time they were “crashing” at a friend’s house.  The hospital staff was worried that whenever the boyfriend came to see her he was bringing her heroin. She has gone through treatment a couple of times but unable to remain clean.  The boyfriend has done the same but they have never been clean and sober at the same time.  Once when she came out of treatment her parents said they would take her back but only if she broke up with her boyfriend. She said she could do anything but that. “They just don’t understand how I am in love with him” she said. I pointed out that it is just about impossible to remain clean if you are still hanging out with people using. I reminded her that her parents loved her very much and how difficult it must be for them to say no.

Can you imagine the tough love it takes to deny housing to your own child? My heart goes out to those parents and parents everywhere dealing with this excruciating and similar circumstance.

My ex husband was an addict. Not the kind of addict living on the streets. He was a firefighter… a professional with a home and a family. He died a few years after our divorce of an overdose. To this day I always wonder… how do some people get clean and sober and some don’t. No one wants to be an addict.

Maybe just maybe this young woman was scared enough to get clean after having a serious reaction to shooting up heroin. Her arm ballooned up four times its normal size and a blood clot traveled to her lung.

I don’t have the answers but I wrote about this because it’s real, its ugly, it’s everywhere and it’s so very sad.

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Lira the Amazing Pet Therapy Dog


The most amazing thing happened when Lira and I went to the hospital yesterday.  When we entered one of the patients rooms a lady in her  early seventies was lying in her bed.  Out her window you could see the Cascade mountain range even though it was a cloudy day.  She said, “Thank you for coming back.”   Lira hopped up into the chair beside her bed.  I remembered her from last week but this time she was awake. We sat there patiently listening while she told us her story.

She said last week she was unconscious while we visited with her husband for a bit.  She said she didn’t really know how to explain it.  She was emotional and tearing up.  She could barely talk she was so choked up.  We waited patiently.  She said she was unconscious during the visit but that she saw Lira  and that she knew she was going to live when she saw Lira.   I got goose bumps.  I  asked her if she would like Lira to lie beside her.  She said, ” oh yes!”  Lira laid beside her and put her head on her lap while the lovely woman and I talked.  She kept saying while she was gently petting Lira’s  head   “I knew I was going to live when I saw Lira.”  She kept saying “thank you  thank you  thank you for coming back.”   It was a very spiritual experience.

When we left, her husband hurried down the hall to ask us if there was a way he could donate to pet therapy.  I told him Lira was certified through Delta Society and gave him their card.  I told Lira that we should share these stories so that people know the benefits of pet therapy, encourage other people to participate in pet therapy with their special pets and that hospitals all over the country might want to bring pet partners into their facilities.

( Lira on her way to work )                                 ( Lira resting after a hard days work )

That special woman who was at deaths door the week before went home a couple of days after our visit.

Lira was so tired last night.  For some reason she was especially tired but happy and content.

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“Have a grrrrreat week everybody.  Love Lira “