learning to navigate the world, j-bear style

An Ending and A Beginning


Preparing to start our lives together. (Thanks to Jaki W. for taking this)

Today marked the end of our two weeks here at 4 Paws for Ability. It was not without random adventure, for we were forced out of the building we started in and back into a much smaller space for class yet in the end it all worked out perfectly as it ought to have.

We met a lot of kids, a lot of families and a lot of dogs. We met the dozens of people behind each and every dog who have been dedicated to improving the lives of our children long before they even knew them. We saw the faces of those who do not say “no” to children and families with very particular, very complicated needs… We found the one place that says “yes”.

It has been two weeks of acceptance, of hard work, of encouragement, of laughter and of tears. We have communicated in barks, in yells, in hand flapping, in clicking, in screams, in whistles and in sighs. We have stood at the start, shoulder to shoulder, nearly all thinking “there is no way I can do this” while talented trainers and staff stood in front of us saying “there’s no way you can fail” while taking our proverbial hands and guiding us along.

There’s not a tool left out of our toolbox to work with these dogs and our children alongside them now. If we find down the road there is, it just takes a phone call to work on getting it in place. The investment each member of the 4 Paws staff has made in each and every dog shines with every lesson given. They know these dogs carry a large burden and they know they can carry it and then some thanks to their hard work and most importantly, their love.

Their love shines through in their dogs. It shines through in the delight on our children’s faces seeing the only friend they might have known thus far in their lives. It shines through in the hope it plants in every family they touch.

All because they love what they do.

This isn’t just a punch the clock job for these men and women, these volunteers and staff. This is all heart. This is all passion. The dogs feel it from birth to the day they go to their forever family, whatever their future may hold and it shows.

Now J is a part of it. J and Brooklyn are a perfect match. Brooklyn is not who I necessarily envisioned but then again, I do not know what I envisioned… They gave us exactly the dog we needed though.

The torch has now been passed as Brooklyn is now a full-fledged certified 4 Paws service dog. It is in our hands now to continue with what they started. We must maintain her impeccable training and manners and show those we encounter just how incredible and life changing these dogs are. I would say it is a daunting thing to face, turning to look towards the future, but it’s not. The love the 4 Paws for Ability staff gave our dogs in their upbringing they gave to us as families during the training. Jeremy, Brit, Shelby, Jessa, Y, Lindsey, Jennifer, all the kennel and training staff… They gave us everything we need. The future can only be amazing from here, all for the love they showed.

Thank you, 4 Paws for Ability. Thank you for believing in our children and our families. Thank you for this gift of hope, love and joy in the shape of a beautiful golden retriever named Brooklyn. Thank you for what you do every day.





  1. Susan Rioux

    I’ve been following your journey for awhile and wanted to finally stop and say hello and welcome home to your beautiful Brooklyn. She is so beautiful; I just know she and your J Bear are going to be BFF. You are an amazing family and your gift for writing allowed all of us to feel we were right there with you in training. Thank you for sharing your sweet boy with us. I know his future is now much brighter with the hope that is Brooklyn. I look forward to reading about their adventures together.

    • Nicole

      Thank you so much Susan! I am glad to share this journey with you all. He’s having such a great time…Now to get settled back into his routine so we can see how life with Brooklyn is going to -really- start to pan out. It’s going to be an adventure let me tell you!

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