Today I am thrilled to share my blog with author Jackie Cangro.  I first found Jackie through a mutual blogger and started to follow her posts.  She has a huge heart and I believe we share a lot of the same values and ideals which makes her the perfect person to guest post on It’s Just Life. Did I mention she is an author?  Jackie’s book The Subway Chronicles: More Scenes from Life in New York had me enthralled and hoping I would run into some of the characters she has met on the New York subway. Today I am thrilled to have her share one of her new features on her blog with us—SHINE. I think you will agree it is a perfect fit for It’s Just Life.

Image from Healing Species of Texas website

Image from Healing Species of Texas website

Joy Southard is one of my favorite people on the planet. True, I haven’t met all of the people on the planet, but if even if I had, I assure you, Joy would still be at the top of the list. We met a few years ago when I interviewed her for an article I was writing about the program she runs in Texas. Through her example, I uncovered one of the most valuable life lessons I would ever learn.

Image courtesy of Jackie Cangro

Image courtesy of Jackie Cangro


Joy walks into the school auditorium and approaches the front of the room. The students, mostly fourth graders, chatter excitedly and fidget in their seats. Joy has brought a special guest with her today. His name is Quincy.

Quincy has salt-and-pepper, curly hair that sticks out in all directions, not unlike Albert Einstein. He is short and sturdy with caramel-colored eyes that seem to know what you’re thinking. As soon as the kids see Quincy, they shout with glee. He is used to this kind of adoration. Quincy travels around Texas teaching lessons about compassion and self-esteem. And he does it without uttering a word. That’s because Quincy is a dog.

Joy is the director of Healing Species of Texas, a compassion education program taught with the assistance of rescue dogs like Quincy. The dogs in the program have lived through abuse or neglect. They are examples to children about how to approach life issues with courage, empathy, integrity, and self worth. Joy doesn’t shy away from the dogs’ sad stories. By honestly telling what happened to the dogs, the kids can find understanding, respect, and, most of all, hope. The dogs made it through, and they can too.

One of the school programs Joy organizes is called Dogs of Character. It’s an assembly presentation of three dogs and parallels their stories to a child’s experience. “We compare the feelings of a new dog at the dog park to that of a new kid on the playground. We bring dogs who have amazing loyalty to each other, yet are characteristically very different, to teach diversity and tolerance,” Joy says.

Joy has many great stories from her work so I asked her to share one.

“One of my favorite stories was a class of kids in a juvenile detention center.  We teach the quote by Albert Schweitzer, ‘Until man extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, he himself will not find peace.’  In this lesson a young boy went up to our board and drew a stick figure with a sad face inside a circle.  He explained that he is putting this boy, who he had bullied for most of the year, in his circle of compassion. His sad face indicated his tears. He told us he was going to apologize to this boy and keep him safe from others who would bully him. That was pretty meaningful to us because we later learned how our student kept his word and was ridiculed for sticking up for the kid who was a target.

“We teach that strength comes from advocacy. When our students finish Healing Species, they know they have the tools to practice being important to someone or something. We work very hard to give these kids chances to feel needed. They are definitely needed to help us change how animals are treated! They are also needed to change how we treat each other.”

Because of Joy and the work she does, I am absolutely sure of one thing: compassion is key. To be able to look at another living being and think “you matter” is one of the most important life lessons of all.

Photo courtesy of Jackie Cangro

Photo courtesy of Jackie Cangro

Image Courtesy of Jackie Cangro

Image Courtesy of Jackie Cangro


Jackie Cangro is a writer, fiction editor, and blogger. She writes a series called SHINE about people like Joy doing great things in their communities. If you or someone you know has a SHINE story to share, please let her know.  

Thanks, Jackie, for the great post today and for sharing Joy with us.  Please let Jackie know how much you liked this post by leaving a comment for her in the comment section.  You can visit her blog by clicking here.


  1. The bullies of the word must be stopped, especially in regard to children. Interesting that this is in TX.

  2. What a great and much-needed project with an innovative approach to dealing with bullies.

  3. What a great program! Compassion needs to be taught and practiced!

  4. What a great program. Kids are so reachable and teachable through animals. Adults, too, for that matter. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Fantastic program! And I love Jackie and so happy to see her here. Happy holidays!

  6. Thank you so much for inviting me to post on your site, Beth Ann! I’m honored to share the important work that Joy is doing with your readers.

  7. Awesome program and much needed! I did programs in schools for 13 years and believe me, students need this kind of encouragement.

  8. Thanks, Jackie, for sending me here. I like the sentence, “The dogs made it through, and they can too.” I’ll remember that.

  9. Ha ha, I can see why the Einstein reference now. Quincy is adorable.

  10. Helen Brown says:

    I really enjoyed reading what Jackie is doing to help children. So many have problems at home and need some help. God bless you Jackie.

  11. “To be able to look at another living being and think “you matter” is one of the most important life lessons of all.”
    How true this statement is! Thank you both.

  12. Compassion is the key. I love that (and completely agree). What a lovely post, Jackie.

  13. Everything about this program sounds like a win to me: children learning lessons about compassion from dogs who certainly wouldn’t be around anymore had they not been rescued. I love this! And Jackie, she rocks — along with her own wonderful rescue pooch, Reggie.

  14. What a beautiful story, Jackie. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. I’m looking forward to learning more about this program!

  15. I… would love to add a light sprinkling of cats for good measure 😉

  16. What an amazing program.

  17. What a wonderful program, to help teach our young children about bullying. Plus using rescue dogs to help teach compassion – rescue dogs make some of the best pets. Great program.

  18. What a wonderful post and program. Thanks for sending me here, Jackie!

  19. What a fantastic program. Teaching diversity, tolerance and compassion should be at the core of every curriculum. What a great pairing with our loving four legged friends. Nice post and a great share!

    • It is indeed a great pairing. The kids seem so much more receptive to learning from the dogs. The dogs don’t judge them or tell them what to do. They are excellent role models. 🙂

  20. What a great program. The dogs are adorable, and I bet the kids are too. The story of the bully turned protector made me heart warm. Teaching compassion is so important. Wonderful post, Jackie!

  21. What a great program. The dogs are adorable, and I bet the kids are too. The story of the bully turned protector made my heart warm. Wonderful post, Jackie!

  22. What a lovely story, Jackie. Compassion empowers. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much for stopping by!!! It is such a wonderful story, isn’t it? I am looking forward to having Jackie join me again in the future with more SHINE!

  23. Melissa Crytzer Fry says:

    Oh, Jackie. I love this. I especially love the Albert Schweitzer quote and how it’s applied to Joy’s work. And in an uncanny twist of fate – the dog in the photo with the blue bandana (Quicny?) looks exactly like a dog we reduced from the desert (She now lives a pampered city life). What a wonderful message — that through animals we can learn more about loving one another. Indeed.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Melissa. Isn’t it a wonderful thing? I am so happy to have Jackie sharing this today. Look for more SHINE next year on It’s Just Life.

  24. Sounds like an incredible program and you are so great for shining light on these people who do great things.


  1. […] I invite you to head over to my post Beth Ann’s site and read about Joy’s important work. Don’t forget to leave a comment. Beth Ann participates in Comments for a Cause, donating $.50 for every blog comment to a charitable organization. This month she’s donating to Doctors Without Borders, an organization that sends doctors from around the world to places that need them most. […]

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