A Different Kind of Angel
Phyllis Staton Campbell
Taken from Our Special, November-December, 2019
*** They’ve been around for centuries in one way or another, those supernatural beings known as angels. They’re often bearers of good news such as the throng described as bringing the good tidings of the birth of Christ to the shepherds. They’re bad, such as Lucifer, the fallen angel, depicted by Milton, in his epic poem, “Paradise Lost”, considered by many as the greatest epic poem written in English. They’re seen in movies and on TV.
I have an interesting memory of angels. At the School for the Blind, where I went to school, we did a version of Hanzel and Gretel, complete with music. In the production, the angels were seen descending from heaven, singing sweetly. Well, singing. This was accomplished with a platform and a ladder. Easy? Yes, that is if the person in front of you moved at the rehearsal speed. The person in front of me, I think her name was Peggy, hesitated. I missed my step, and the Virginia School had its own fallen angel. Fortunately, I was near the bottom, and the teacher in charge assured me it was hardly noticeable. Maybe?
But as usual, I digress.
Angel sightings are especially prevalent around this time of year. They’re in department stores, in table decorations, sitting atop a Christmas tree. Voices, young and old sing about them. That they’re often offkey makes no difference, the sound is joyful, and the message encouraging. And let’s not forget the Christmas pageants, when that kid who stuck gum in your front door lock, suddenly, for one night, becomes an angel, wrapped in a sheet. It might have been lifted from the neighbor’s clothesline, but by gracious he’s an angel.
Recently, I was introduced to a group of very special angels. They aren’t the traditional white, although some are. They may be brown, black, gray, and even multi colored. They don’t need clothes, because they come with their own coat. Instead of wings that move around, they have tails. Have you guessed what they are yet? One final clue, they bark. They’re dogs, of course! They’re no ordinary dogs, however, they’re God’s Canine Angels.
The name of their home away from home, where they are trained, and like to hang out is, Positive Paws, God’s Canine Angels.
I don’t have to stress here the importance of a well-trained dogs. Many of us know the joy of mobility given to the blind by dogs trained at such special schools as The Seeing Eye, and Guiding Eyes for the Blind, but are unaware of the training done at Positive Paws, God’s Canine Angels, and other training facilities. To the best of my knowledge, none of the facilities train guide dogs, but they offer freedom and hope for those with other so-called disabilities.
In literature, angels are often miracle workers. After visiting the training school, and talking to its founders, I’m convinced that the age of miracles is alive and well. There’s nothing supernatural about these angels with four paws, just hard work and a lot of love.
What do they do? They do many things, but the one single thing their work has in common is freedom.
The facility is the dream of three women, Stacy Payne, SharonPenny and Katy Lopez. Stacy suffered a number of conditions, considered by many as disabilities, but instead of handicapping, they worked for good. She saw firsthand, the need for dogs to assist those with things that kept them from living the lives that God intended them to live. The diabetic, often kept from a normal life because of the danger of coma, the epileptic in danger of a fall brought by a seizure, the person with mobility problems that keep them from doing such simple things as picking up an object dropped on the floor. Then, there’s the person, who has lived through a traumatic situation, who feels totally alone, perhaps feeling that normal life is over, who finds emotional security, and a renewed sense of self, through the love and companionship of a dog.
Stacy, who has been training dogs for thirty years, began to make the dream a reality, the result being Positive Paws, God’s canine angels. At present the age range of trainees ranges from six to seventy. Unlike many facilities God’s Canine Angels follows dogs and people through the initial training, and in essence never leaves them. The training is measured in years in many cases, and requires patience on the part of all concerned, even the dogs.
What exactly do the dogs do? Take the case of an epileptic. Through careful, even painstaking work, the dog learns to detect the onset of a seizure, and is able to warn its person, so they can move to safety avoiding a fall. The same is true of a diabetic, whose sugar level may have suddenly changed. The hearing assistant, alerts to a ringing phone doorbell, or a smoke or fire alert.
In addition to the specialized training, dogs are given ordinary obedience training to become that much desired thing, a well trained pet.
Various breeds are used for the assist dogs. Like the dog guide schools, person and dog are carefully matched, thus increasing success.
It is hard to say how many lives have been changed through the ingenuity of these women, the support of the community and the gallant dogs, who, in a sense, give their lives that their people may find theirs. Join them, as they in their own special way bring freedom, peace and joy to the world.
Readers who wish to learn more about assist dogs may find more information at
As many of you may remember, in August 2020, Phyllis had a biopsy, and it showed Uterine Cancer.
On Monday August 24, 2020, she had surgery and afterward, follow up treatment at Augusta Health.
Sadly, Phyllis passed away at approximately 8 AM, January 13, 2021.
To see her obituary please visit: https://www.bearfuneralhome.com/obituaries/Phyllis-S-Campbell?obId=19613464#/obituaryInfo
For information on her books, you may visit: PhyllisStatonCampbellAuthor.com
Also, some of her works are available from the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled site and their download information is listed below.
Phyllis will be deeply missed by all those who knew and loved her.
Patty L. Fletcher