Not many dogs can claim responsibility for their owners’ college diploma, but mine could. If it weren’t for Mr. Beebs, I would not have experienced the satisfaction that comes from going back to school at midlife and finishing what I’d started thirty years prior. Mr. Beebs was my inspiration, and, as anyone who has ever loved a dog knows, they are more than capable of guiding us toward our better selves.

Humans’ relationships with dogs go back thousands of years, and I believe that our shared bond is not only embedded in our DNA, but lodged in our hearts. How else could I explain the path I found myself on? It wasn’t as though I had planned to return to college; in fact, it was the farthest thing from my mind. Ten thousand horsemen couldn’t have pulled me away from my music career before Mr. Beebs got sick, and yet, extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures.


What Led Me Back To College

What led me back to college was my conviction that the problems that had led to Mr. Beebs’s demise weren’t going to be fixed with a song and dance. If I were to effect lasting change, I needed a new set of tools—and I’d have to reinvent myself. I took out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans and prayed that I would live long enough to pay them back. My husband was supportive, which was a good thing since his income was the collateral for those loans. When I walked into the college admissions office to register for the 2008 spring semester, I was forty-nine years old.

I had six whopping credits to my name, but I jumped into academia, and unexpectedly found myself in the fountain of youth. I’d forgotten what it was like to be around all those raging hormones. The halls buzzed with energy, purpose, and sexuality and I felt myself vibrating with it like a guitar string. What a joy to be surrounded by youthful life force. What a contrast to the past thirty years of high school class reunions which reminded me of a trip to the used car lot.


I Was On a Mission

Going back to college was an experience I highly recommend to anyone who regrets not completing their education. George Eliot said it best, “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” Besides, I wasn’t there to fool around; I was on a mission. I studied constantly, and brought my homework to the park so the dogs could play and I could get my assignments in on time.

Mr. Beebs “preventable” illness was always in the back of my mind spurring me on to study hard. Lots of professors and classmates asked me what prompted me to go back to school and my answer was always the same, “Because my dog suffered.” I needed to take a bad situation and make it right.


Gaining My Degree, Writing My Book

That’s what my book, Mr. Beebs, is all about. Loving a dog so much that you end up on a mission trying to protect other people and their pets from experiencing what we did. I wanted to make sure that Mr. Beebs pain was not in vain. Receiving a bachelor’s degree in political science was my way of proving to myself that I could take on the challenge and be mentally well equipped to do so.

I owe my diploma to Mr. Beebs.