What is it about children and animals that touches our hearts, and in this case caused an entire community to rally their support.

The boy is Parker, the dog is Candy, and the mom is Wendy, my friend. When Parker was diagnosed at an early age with Asperger's (a form of autism) I watched the family's often painful struggle with the challenges this presented. When Candy entered their lives as a therapy service dog for Parker, she calmed him down during outbursts, she attended school with him, and as Parker said, "She became a sister to me." They were inseparable.

Flash forward to Feb. 2. Candy slipped out of a back door at the local groomer's where she had been going for seven years.

Within hours the Ahwatukee community rallied. Friends sent email blasts, posters were made and put up, kids rode their bikes in the greenbelts, friends walked their own dogs hoping to attract her, others drove their cars slowly through parking lots of nearby apartment complexes.

Candy was found the next day at the Mesa Animal Shelter. The story has a happy ending. But this is more than a boy/dog story. To me it is a tribute to the power of friendship and community. As I stood at Wendy's front porch that night and looked around at the friends who gathered to support this family, I, in spite of the grim situation, felt so blessed to be a part of this community with the ancient Indian name, Ahwatukee, which has the goodness of small-town America in a city of 8 million.

Sometimes when I watch TV shows from the '50s I yearn to live in a place like Mayberry where people looked out for each other and then I realized, I DO live in such a place ... now in the 21st century.

In this day when horrid crimes and rampage shootings seem to fill our news, it was a balm for all of us to rally round a story that showed the goodness of people. And a love story between a boy and a dog.

Vy Armour

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