This article was first published in JWeekly.
If it weren’t for Lola, Marcia Goldman would never have thought to become a children’s book author.
Lola is Goldman’s 5-year-old Yorkshire terrier and the title character of her first published book, “Lola Goes to Work: A Nine-to-Five Therapy Dog. ” The 32-page picture book, with text and photos by Goldman, tells the story of little Lola, a certified therapy dog.
Lola has participated in reading programs at public schools and at bookstores, sitting patiently and listening to children who have difficulty reading as they read to her. She has joined autistic children in the classroom, and Goldman hopes to get her accepted to Stanford Hospital’s therapy dog program as well.
“It’s ‘The Little Engine That Could,’ with fur,” jokes the Atherton resident about the book, which is based on her experiences going through therapy-dog training with Lola a couple of years ago. All of the proceeds from sales will be donated to an autism charity.
A leading philanthropist in the Bay Area Jewish community with a foundation that bears her name and that of her husband, John, Marcia Goldman is retired from a 30-year career in special education. For 25 years, she focused on teaching children on the autism spectrum, doing consulting and running her own program in San Carlos, and later working at the Pacific Autism Center for Education (PACE) in Santa Clara for nine years.
She came up with the therapy dog idea soon after retiring. “A friend of mine had her dog trained as a therapy dog, and I wondered if my little 5-pound Lola could do it,” recalled Goldman, who was just getting used to Lola after having had Labrador retrievers and a cocker spaniel in the past.
Ignoring naysayers who thought Lola was too lightweight for the job, Goldman perceived that Lola had a unique character, so she went ahead and pursued the specialized training. Lola passed all the required components, including obedience training, canine good citizenship and behavioral tests.
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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.