December 2020 – hope Has a Cold Nose Update

Dear Hope Has a Cold Nose readers,

One of the most satisfying experiences I know is just fully to appreciate an individual in the same way I appreciate a sunset.  When I look at a sunset…I don’t find myself saying “soften the orange a little on the right hand corner, and put a little more purple in the cloud cover”…I don’t try to control a sunset.  I watch it with awe as it unfolds.  It is this open, receptive attitude which is necessary to truly perceive something as it is.  – Carl Rogers

Ginger and Kutana.  Fur and cold noses that complete home, and our hearts.  Ginger entered our lives when my heart needed unconditional acceptance of its sorrows.  She gladly stepped into that role, and found healing for her own grieving, too.  Ginger matches the rhythm of my soul that finds itself inspired when in stillness and quietude.  When I am in nature or in silence, I am often my most creative.   Ginger’s calm and soft disposition holds the space for this tranquility.  Kutana entered our lives destined to awaken the child within each of us.  Her curiosity and her joy are infectious in the best kind of ways.  Well, at least most of the time when puppyhood isn’t too much in the driver’s seat.  {smile}  

When Ginger, Kutana, and I are on one of our morning runs, a collar light is not needed for Ginger.  Her white and tan fur shine as a beacon of light on behalf of the glow of the moon and the twinkle of the stars.  If I do not see Kutana’s eyes reflected against my headlamp, I do not see Kutana.  She moves as the last remnants of night move before daybreak.   At one with the darkness, she messages that nightfall is not a barrier to seeing next steps.

We learn best through opposites and how well we dance in the middle is our grace.  I am blessed with two great opposite teachers in fur who continual educate me in how to be with the ebbs and flows of the river of life. 

If I didn’t already have reason to be in awe of these teachers in fur, I marvel at their capability to continually see with new eyes.   On our morning runs and evening walks we follow trail loops.   Each time we are on a path we have been before, both Ginger and Kutana explore the trail as if it is the first time they are experiencing it.  A day apart, hours apart, minutes apart.  The lapse in time not important.  Each moment is a new moment that holds the promise of new smells and new things to see. 

Recently I had a moment in which I had gotten in my own way, so to speak, with what I was feeling from an interaction with someone I hold very dear.  Instead of seeing from the other person’s perspective, I looked through the lens of my childhood emotions.  Instead of letting go and letting be, I held tightly to history.   In the moment, history felt safer.  I wanted to rally against the certainty of change to keep close the certainty of what had been.   Like the running trail, I was traveling a circle of life, only I was struggling to see with new eyes as Ginger and Kutana would.  

In that moment I was struggling to unconditionally accept.    Ginger and Kutana lean in fully.  To what they are experiencing.  To unconditional acceptance.  To love.    They meet my husband and I everyday where we are it in what we are feeling and in what we are thinking, and they do not ask anything of us except to be allowed to love us exactly as we are.   Ok, sure, they also ask for food, water, and time outside.  And cuddling.  They also like cuddling.  {smile} Their main request of us is…love.  To be recipients of and to give in the purest, most unconditional, form there is.

This interaction with someone I hold dear gave me pause to think about the twenty-three extraordinary co-authors in Hope Has a Cold Nose.   I thought about how hard it is for us as humans to not “get in our own way” when we are interacting with others, to not bring our histories and our fears into what we feel or how we are listening to what the other person is saying.  I reflected on the wisdom in these stories about how meaningful it is to the co-authors that the service dogs offer such significant non-judgment.    Listening ears, open heart, acceptance.   

These co-authors are buoyed up during the hard moments by their service dogs for many reasons including they know their service dogs depend on and are counting on them.  Yet, these co-authors do not fear their service dogs will verbally speak words that are filled with expectations, shoulds, and should nots – i.e., words that each of us as humans speak that contain conditions that meet our own needs and not just the needs of the person we interact with. 

Individuals are struggling to be heard.  What if all of us paused speaking for a moment?   Instead of the world growing silent, perhaps we would hear more.

Individuals are struggling to be seen.  What if all of us turned 360 degrees where we stood and looked with new eyes?   Instead of staying in place, perhaps we would take leaps forward.

Last month I communicated how I believe that the extraordinary stories in Hope Has a Cold Nose will inspire more than hope for twenty-two lives a day.  I believe these stories will inspire hope for anyone who is struggling with pain, trauma, sorrow, despair, or grief.   Recently I have been thinking a lot about children ages seven or eight to their early twenties.  The specific age bracket not as important as my thought about how there is a generation of youth who are receiving their significant traumatic moment with all that has transpired this year 2020.  

These youth have moved enough past childlike wonder and innocence and have gained enough experience to feel a profound sense of loss from what was to what is no more.  Unless of course they are taught the power to choose their reactions and to look for what they can create as part of new beginnings.   If youth are taught that they are taking part in creating beginnings and that endings are purposeful in creating space for the new, 2020 will not leave a deep footprint that becomes their lifetime pain, trauma, sorrow, despair, or grief. 

Now, more than ever, bravely talking about the subjects we prefer not to talk about is critical.  As written in Hope Has a Cold Nose, to look someone’s pain or grief in the eye is one of the hardest things to do. We find ourselves uncomfortable listening to the content of the story.  Yet, if we continue to struggle to look pain, trauma, sorrow, despair, or grief in the eye, instead of the world finding healing and new beginnings, anguish will be the new norm.    

I don’t know about you, but I think there has been enough anguish. 

It is now time to flourish in hope.

Blessings to you this holiday season.  May peace, joy, and well-being be yours in the year to come.   May hope walk beside you every step of the way.

My goal in life is to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am. – Anonymous



My gratitude to Southern Living for their support of the power of hope!

For an engaging webinar facilitated by Dr. Alan Westfield, with sharing by Dr. Adrian Popa, Michael Ortiz, Taylor Rowell, and me, please click on the link below:  

Listening, Empathy, Awareness & Dignity: LEADership Through Storytelling & Companionship

To purchase Hope Has a Cold Nose:

Amazon: : christine hassing

Barnes and Noble:

Balboa Press:

or you can contact me:

Feel free to contact me with any comments or questions.  I welcome exchanging in dialogue with you.  I can be reached by visiting, or you can email me at

P.S.  For additional impactful and powerful information regarding the healing impact of service dogs, please visit   


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