Living for Justice

Pets are more than just companions. They can help you heal–and even renew your faith.

By Mary Deets, Monrovia, California

As appeared in

One morning, sitting in the living room, I put down my Bible and closed my eyes to pray. All the typical things to be thankful for floated through my mind. Then came something new. Thank you, God, for Justice, for the way he gives me confidence.

I opened my eyes. There he lay on the carpet, his nose resting on his fuzzy front paws. Above him, resting atop a bookshelf, sat a dusty black-and-white bicycle helmet. It was the one I’d worn in the accident. The helmet that probably saved my life.

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I couldn’t remember anymore why I’d decided to keep it. I looked back at Justice. Yes, I thought, I lost so much in the accident. But look at what I’ve gained. Look at who I’ve become.

As it turned out, Justice never became a guide dog. He didn’t make the cut during training, and as his puppy raiser I had first dibs on adoption. I took him in as a veteran to help me socialize all the other dogs I’ve since raised–11 more, including my current pup, Dakota.

Two of my dogs have become full-fledged guide dogs, three became search-and-rescue dogs and the others now do therapy work in hospitals and convalescent homes. Technically I raise these dogs to serve others. But I know who they also serve.

With their help I see something I once feared I’d lost forever–my self.   

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Your Comments (4)

MARY DEETS. You are My Hero. Your forging forward despite the odds is inspiring, and your love for pups, first Springers then Labs to do service is great. I knew you'd crashed, and talked to you afterwards, but lost contact years after....glad to see you have risen from the crash to Faith.
DIANE

We were so blessed to have Mary bring her fabulous dogs to our program for over 10 years (before I moved from the area). Mary came every week, tirelessly, and trained her dogs to help with our children/teens with developmental disabilities. She is a gift to us all, and I will forever be grateful for everything she has helped our kids to accomplish through her efforts and generous heart. Mary's quiet but strong presence is a testimony to our faithful God. thank you, Mary, for all you have done for our kids. We love you!!!! I look forward to hearing about the many doggies in the next few years that you will train to help others!
Suzy Getty (Wright)

Mary, what a beautiful story! I am so happy for you and what your life has become. My very best friend had a brain injury a few years back, & although she didn't totally lose her memory, she had to relearn so much, & I was blessed to be able to help her. God has blessed you with the important job of training four-legged angels to help others. How fulfilling that must be! May God continue to bless you. Thank you for sharing your story.

What a beautiful story of despair to hope. Mary, you are a beautiful person inside and out. You walked through your adversity, beat the odds, and received a gift... the gift of yourself. Now you are serving the world through your compassionate heart. Wow...powerful.
My son had a traumatic brain injury so I am well aware of Mary's fears, and challenges. In fact, I'm on a journey of writing his story, hoping to bring healing and inspiration to others, like Mary.