Thursday, January 15, 2015

Many writers are introverts. They are happiest when they’re squirreled away with their computer and their imaginary friends. But for the extroverted writer, like me, a day or two of solitude is about all I can take.

Shortly after my last child left home, our dog died. The quiet was deafening. It wasn’t long before I was climbing the walls. One day I suggested to my husband I wanted a new dog…a big one so I wouldn’t be lonely or afraid to stay by myself. My husband was happy with our pet-free environment, but I’m a dog lover at heart; it’s why I write a dog into most of my stories. My Carthage Chronicles series has two of them.

So I launched my “Lynne needs a dog campaign” and began to pray.

The next Sunday at church a friend approached me with a picture on her phone of this beautiful rescue dog in need of a good home.

“Part Golden Retriever, part Great Pyrenees,” she guessed. “If he doesn’t find a home today, he’ll be put down first thing Monday morning. It would be a shame if he couldn’t have one last good afternoon.” My eyes darted between her hopeful face and the sad-looking creature in the picture.

I showed the picture to my husband.

My husband shook his head. “He’s big.”

We both agreed we weren’t ready to be tied down, but giving this doomed creature a nice afternoon was kind of like giving a man on death row a good last meal. “A real Christian thing to do,” I pleaded.

“But only for the afternoon,” my husband warned.

A few hours later, a seventy-pound mutt leaped from my friend’s car. I looked at my husband and said, “He is big.” The dog galloped across the yard, skidded to a halt at my feet, sat, and cocked his head. I looked into those big brown eyes and fell in love. From that moment on, this stray was my dog.

His plumed tail reminded me of a Roman centurion’s helmet so I named him Roman. He needed
shots, grooming, and serious housebreaking. His powerful tail could clear my coffee table with one swipe. It was nothing for Roman to snatch a loaf of bread off the counter and eat the whole thing. On walks he dragged me like a plow. Despite Roman’s ill manners, the house was noisy and busy again, and someone needed me. I felt alive. Soon, I was writing better than ever.

One chilly Saturday everything changed. Roman joined us on a 5K run sponsored by the hospital where my husband works. Dogs were welcome, so we took Roman. The director of animal therapy noticed Roman (because everyone notices a dog the size of a small horse). She was so impressed by Roman’s sweet nature, she suggested I train him to become one of the medical-therapy dogs who work in the cancer center.

“You’re kidding. I didn’t know there were dogs that did this.”

She gave me her card and told me, “Studies show petting a dog can lower stress, blood pressure, and lift spirits.”

I couldn’t argue with that statistic. My whole attitude about life had changed since I adopted Roman.

“My mother died of cancer,” I told the director. “If Roman and I can ease someone’s pain, even for a few minutes, I’m on board.”

Roman and I have completed several levels of training and testing.

My dog and I are now certified to work in the hospitals.

Twice a month we visit the oncology wards where I watch Roman bring smiles and relief to the frightened and hurting.

On days when I’m stuck at home writing, I stroke the head of my hairy writing pal who is curled at my feet and I don’t feel so alone.

As Roman and I work together, I see God’s purpose. I thought I was supposed to rescue this dog. Turns out, this rescue dog was born to rescue not only the broken and hurting; this dog was born to rescue me.

I love how God comes into our lives and rescues us from the death sentence we deserve. That’s why the theme of rescue will always show up in my adventure stories.

About the author

Lynne Gentry has written for numerous publications and is a professional acting coach and playwright with several full-length musicals to her credit. She likes to write stories that launch modern women into ancient adventures, such as Healer of Carthage (2014), which was the first in The Carthage Chronicles series. Return to Exile is the second, and Valley of Decision is expected September 22, 2015. Gentry loves spending time with her family and medical therapy dog.

To keep up with Lynne Gentry, visit, become a fan on Facebook (Author-Lynne-Gentry) or follow her on Twitter (@Lynne_Gentry), YouTube and Pinterest (lynnegentry7).


  1. What an absolutely perfect article, Lynne! Thank you so much. And give Roman a pat for me! :-)

  2. He misses you, Elizabeth. Thanks for having me on The Borrowed Book. Would love to hear about your pets, readers.


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