NEWTON, Conn. -- The Bacon family of Newtown felt helpless after losing their 6-year-old daughter Charlotte in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School three years ago today, Dec. 14.
But inspired by Charlotte's life, her passions and the difference she continues to make in the world, the family has written two books on therapy dogs that helped get them through the difficult times.
“We grieve every day for our beautiful, spirited Charlotte, and we will grieve every day hereafter," says Charlotte's mother JoAnn. "Our advocacy work and our books are an outlet for our grief. It brings us closer to our little girl and allows us to honor her. We also hope that, through it, we can offer resources, help, and hope to other families."
Therapy dogs were brought to the school after the tragedy to provide comfort and a listening ear to the grieving children, including Charlotte's brother, Guy. The dogs sat patiently as students read to them, petted them, and spoke to them, and provided a much-needed calming presence for both children and teachers. Once the Bacons witnessed the wonderful influence of the dogs, they knew Charlotte had something to do with it, as she had loved animals fiercely – especially dogs.
Charlotte's Litter, an advocacy program for therapy dog programs in educational and societal settings, was founded in Charlotte's honor and her love of dogs. Through Charlotte's Litter, the Bacons hope to promote the use of therapy dogs to aid in both children's literacy and emotional support.
"Good Dogs, Great Listeners: The Story of Charlotte, Lily and the Litter" is a children's book penned by Charlotte's parents JoAnn and Joel, with the help of author Renata Bowers. It is based on Charlotte's life with illustrations by Michael Chesworth. The book follows the adventures of Charlotte, Lily and her stuffed animals and Charlotte's discovery of a love for reading.
Charlotte's brother Guy wrote and compiled "The Dogs of Newtown" to emphasize the unique personalities and attributes each therapy dog exhibited when they visited Newtown in 2012.
As Guy writes, “these were some of the most special therapy dogs that visited my friends and me at school and helped lick the tears away.”
Both books can be purchased online at www.amazon.com.
For more information, visit www.gooddogsgreatlisteners.com and www.charlotteslitter.org.
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