Kettering writer shares lessons learned from her dog

Linda Healy’s story is featured in an edition of “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”

Writers write. And for Kettering resident, Linda Healy, this is certainly true today and has been for most of her life. Raised in Texas, Healy ended up studying nursing in college, eventually choosing a career in Hospice care.

“I hadn’t really thought about being a writer,” Healy said. “I always loved to write and kept a journal for many years.”

She moved to Ohio about 15 years ago to be closer to her adult children. And at the age of 65, she signed up for her first writing class at the University of Dayton.

“I saw a class called legacy writing,” Healy said. “I decided it would be a good class to cull my journals and memories and write children’s stories.”

That first six-week class turned into more than four years and from it developed into a group of local writers who began meeting weekly in 2018. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the group continued to meet virtually, and Healy said this was probably what helped her learn to write and edit more than any other event in her life.

“We all wrote all kinds of things,” Healy said. “I started writing poetry and would share it and get feedback.”

Though many writers set out with the hope of one day publishing their work, sometimes those stories never quite see the light of day. But Healy started publishing hers in 2022, beginning with six pieces in the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series of books.

Begun in 1993, Chicken Soup for the Soul, founded by motivational speakers Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, started out by publishing stories by people of all faiths, nationalities, ethnicities, sexual orientation and gender identities. The idea was simple – helping writers help each other by sharing their own stories and lives. The added and unexpected benefit was that these books began inspiring people from all across the globe.

“I also published a story in “Real Women Write,” from the Story Circle Network,” Healy said. “That story on empathy was nominated for an award,” she said of the recognition it received from the Pushcart Prize which honors poetry, essays, short stories and other short-form writing.

Healy started the New Year 2023 by submitting more of her stories and so far, has published three this year, including her story about a rescue dog, Shadow, who ended up changing her life.

In late 2014, Healy experienced two life tragedies that turned her world upside down. She lost her husband Chuck to a brain tumor on Dec. 23. Then a few days later on Dec. 29 her beloved yellow Labrador, Candy, who had worked by her side visiting Hospice patients for many years, passed away.

“I had just left my full-time job as a Hospice nurse when my husband got sick and died,” Healy said. “I don’t know which was harder, losing him or losing Candy.”

Credit: David Suter Photography

Credit: David Suter Photography

Healy’s story, “Saving Shadow,” was written about the dog that came into her life as she was grieving these tremendous losses. Born into a puppy mill, Shadow, a mini Goldendoodle, first met Healy in August of 2015. Healy said she had always wanted a “doodle,” and was yearning for another dog, but was having difficulty getting off the couch and leaving her house. Something told her she needed to go out on that day, so she forced herself to do it.

“I went to an adoption event and saw her,” Healy said. “She was so skinny and scared but she got on my lap and looked into my eyes and I knew she was the one.”

The story of how Shadow came to live with Healy and gave her a reason to start living again was written last year and published in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Lessons Learned from my Dog” in January of 2023.

“The story is about how we helped each other,” Healy said.

Though Healy said she has taken a novel writing class, for now she plans to stick with short stories. She continues meeting with her legacy writing group, and group leader Jude Walsh, who has published three books. Though she hasn’t yet delved into writing down her many inspiring experiences while working in hospice care, she plans to do so.

“I’ve written stories about a homeless family I met in Texas that I ended up helping with a hotel room and food,” Healy said. “And another about a dolphin I met in Hilton Head that I knew I was going to meet before I boarded the boat.”

Now 70 years old, Healy spends her days with Shadow and with her friends and family members. She admits that her body feels weaker, but her spirit still feels strong.

“Every day is a wonder for me,” Healy said. “I never feel bored, and I still go out. I’m fortunate that my writer group members are among my closest friends.”

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