‘Betty Grable’ inspires Farragut duo to write children’s book

A 5-year-old Black Labrador has inspired Farragut woman Gloria Gorss and her granddaughter, Maya Alves, to write a children’s book about Gorss’ experiences with her service dog.

“She is my constant companion and helper,” said Gorss, who acquired Betty Grable three years ago.

As such, Alves encouraged her grandmother to write the children’s book, “Game Day with Grammy,”

“Maya came up with the idea we should write a book about grandma with disabilities, and maybe try to help little kids,” Gorss said.

“Sometimes kids may not understand why grammy and grandpa cannot do certain things or go certain places,” said Alves, a University of Tennessee junior majoring in early childhood education. “Kind of the whole service dog idea was really cool to bring into the story.”

Gorss said sometimes children are afraid of the oxygen tanks and wheelchairs.

“Hopefully, (the book) will inform and entertain at the same time,” she added.

The book is available through Amazon for $10.99.

Gorss was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, chronic inflammatory demyelineating polyneuropathy, a form of muscular sclerosis, 10 years ago.

“My muscles are slowly wasting and giving out,” she said. “I’m struggling more and more to walk, and I don’t have any feeling in my feet.

“A lot of stuff is going on,” added Gorss, who also is diabetic.

“A doctor suggested a service dog might help, so I applied five years ago. I checked around a lot of different places, and we found a place called Duo Dogs in St. Louis. It’s a non-profit. You can apply … it’s a scholarship. It’s based on your physical needs.

After several of her doctors wrote letters, “I had to fill out all these applications and a background check,” Gorse recalled. “I didn’t hear anything until probably a year-and-a-half. They called one day and said, ‘we’ve got a dog for you.’

She went to St. Louis to meet her new dog, Betty Grable, and train with her.

“The reason she’s called Betty Grable is … the litter of pups she was with, (the owners) named them after famous celebrities from St. Louis,” Gorss said. “The litter now they’re naming after cars.”

She pointed out Betty Grable is a service dog, not an emotional support dog.

“She can’t be denied access,” Gorss said. “Aside from being my comfort and support, she earns her keep by making life easier for me in many ways.”

Betty Grable opens and closes doors, cupboards and drawers. She picks up things off the floor for Gorss when Gorss drops something.

“She helps remove my shoes and socks or any other article of clothing,” Gorss said of Betty Grable. “Because I am a diabetic and can have low glucose incidents, one of her most important jobs is to retrieve my emergency glucose kit and cell phone.

“I keep both of these items together in a pouch in a very specific location,” she added.

Overall, “She is my very own ‘Life Alert,’ Gorss said. “Because I have limited mobility issues, my husband walks and exercises Grable daily. They are a pretty good Frisbee team.”

Gorss has to get recertified with Betty Grable annually to ensure the dog receives care. “At home, she’s a goofy lab, but when she puts her little vest on, she’s a working dog.”