Saturday, June 19, 2021

My Daughter's First Book -- Amelia's Journey to Find Family


Lauren Auster-Gussman, my oldest daughter, 
with her book Amelia's Journey to Find Family

If I were asked to name one thing that defines the life of my oldest daughter, I would say, "Lauren loves dogs!"

We got our family's first dog when Lauren was eight years old. The German Shepherd named Lucky was the whole family's dog, but Lauren really loved that dog.  Except for when she lived in college dorms, Lauren has had dogs ever since.  She currently has two rescue dogs named Guinness and Watson, but she wrote her first book about a dog named Amelia.  

Amelia and her book

Lauren adopted Amelia last year and kept her alive and as healthy as possible until she passed away last month on May 20, National Rescue Dog Day at the age of approximately 12-14.  The book is a story told by Amelia about finding her last and final family.  If you would like to get the book for a child in your life (or yourself), order here.

Lauren volunteers for Lu's Labs, a Labrador Retriever Rescue organization.  Lauren fostered thirty rescued labs over the past five years before deciding to keep Amelia.  

Over the past year, Amelia posted daily on the Lu's Labs site as well as her and her brother's instagram page. These posts detailed her transition to Lauren's home, old lady ailments, the difficulties of training the humans and attempting to understand their behavior, and about finding the simple joys and things to be grateful for in each day.  These posts had hundreds of followers. 

In her passing, Amelia received over a thousand messages from people telling her how her posts inspired them, taught them about love and gratitude, helped them through difficult times in their lives, the uncertainty of COVID, and how reading her daily posts became part of their morning coffee routine or part of family dinner each night. These messages also had another common and incredible theme, so many people spoke of the incredible love they had for dog they'd never met. 

Lauren is currently posting on Facebook at Team Wag Forever.

On Instagram:  Amelia Writes Books and Guiness Watson and Friends.

Lauren shared with me many of the hundreds of comments she received.  I was really moved by the comment from her soccer coach at Juniata College, Scott McKenzie.  I only went on one college visit with Lauren and that was the college she picked. I remember little of the visit except the first moment of meeting coach McKenzie.  

Lauren and I walked into McKenzie's office. He was sitting at the desk looking at some papers, looked at Lauren then bolted straight up out of his chair, hands raised like he was in Church and said, "Praise the Lord. A five-foot ten goalkeeper wants to play for my team."  

Lauren played every season, but missed a lot of her senior season after an open fracture of her finger in a pre-season game.  

Here is Coach McKenzie's response to Amelia's passing.  Lauren's nickname on the team was "Goose."  

A good friend of mine lost one of her dogs this morning. Not just any friend and not just any dog!  Goose (my friend) competed for me while a student-athlete at Juniata College. Goose was a terrific goalkeeper for our women’s soccer team. She’s an even better human being who has dedicated her professional life to caring for others. It makes sense, then, that this tendency towards care would carry over to her personal life in the dedication she shows to her family and her pets. Goose volunteers for an organization called Lu’s Labs, which connects available dogs with their forever families. 

In Amelia’s case, the cards were stacked against this wonderful chocolate lab. Elderly dogs and dogs with compromised health are tough to place. In steps Goose (about a year ago) and becomes Amelia’s foster and then forever Mom. Goose and her husband welcomed Amelia into their family of two other labs and they became a family of five. 

Goose and Amelia wrote a children’s book together about finding a home and being loved. I can’t wait to get my “pawtographed” copy. 

Goose gave Amelia a voice and many of us have followed their wonderful journey together. 

This morning, that journey ended as Amelia earned her wings and will be waiting for her families at the Rainbow Bridge. 

Before she left, Amelia asked for a favor from all of us. She asked us to consider an elderly or ill dog if/when you adopt. She proved, over the past year, that they can give love and laughs with the time they have left. I believe this to be true. 

So, please learn more about adoption. Visit Lu’s Labs online. Consider Amelia’s book as a good read for you or a friend. 

Most importantly, open your heart to the possibility of the great amount of love that remains in our dogs, no matter what their age. 

Amelia, I never met you but my eyes were filled with tears of heartbreak when I learned of your passing. 

Good dog Amelia. Good dog. 

Goose - you’re an amazing person and I thank you for allowing many of us to join you in loving that good dog.

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