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      A story of Serenity: A pet owner and pooch heal together

      For some pet owners, their pet brings joy. For Kathi Fosburg, her pooch Wyatt took her on a journey of healing.

      They both found serenity by accepting that a recovery process takes time. And now, the U.P. is home to the reigning 2013 Aussie Rescue & Placement Helpline Dog of the Year! Wyatt holds the distinguished title awarded to Australian Shepherds who have triumphed over tragedy.

      Aussie Rescue & Placement Helpline Incorporation, also known as ARPH, is a 501c3 rescue organization devoted to Australian Shepherds. They are based in Pennsylvania and also have representatives and volunteers throughout the country.

      TV6 & FOX U.P.??s Business Manager Kathi Fosburg shares her heartwarming story of how Wyatt changed her life forever. Kathi??s winning essay follows:

      ??A few weeks after losing my elderly dog, Toivo, I agreed to foster a "project" dog. On May 7, 2011, Celina Blue, who I renamed Wyatt, arrived at my house in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan via transport from Ohio. Wyatt was my first foster. (This means Kathy became the foster home and ultimately adopted Wyatt once he was rehabilitated.) I was his second foster home; he'd made little progress in his first home.

      When he arrived, he didn't want to get out of his crate. That was his safe place. He refused to make eye contact. Everything scared him: children, traffic, strangers, toys, even the snapping of my gum. Heaven forbid if anyone threw a ball or stick at him. He would panic and want to run and hide. He looked defeated. We took baby steps together.

      I would make him leave his crate and experience things, then let him go back and feel safe. I'd sit in front of his crate with the door open and talk to him and pet him and hold his paw.

      I'd walk him with my other Aussie, Chloe Grace, who is as outgoing and confident as Wyatt was withdrawn and terrified. Slowly, with each new experience, his walls cracked and fell away, and out emerged an evermore trusting and brave little boy. The way he looked at me told me he had found his forever home with me.

      Earning the trust and love of this poor soul soothed the heartache from the loss of my elderly dog. We both healed.

      Today, Wyatt loves to run in the woods with his siblings. He loves to help his sister "herd" the chippies and squirrels and cheers her on with exuberant barks. Watching him learn to enjoy the simple pleasures of being a dog is a joy. He makes me laugh and smile, and when I think of how far he's come...I cry.??

      Kathi also volunteers and fosters dogs locally for UPAWS as well as ARPH. For more information on Aussie Rescue in Michigan, please visit www.arim.org . For more information on the Aussie Rescue & Placement Helpline, please visit their website www.aussierescue.org .