HBO Documentary on Dog Bereavement

May 2, 2011 · Posted in Aging Dogs · Comment 

As many of you know, I lost my retired service dog, Morgan, on March 12, 2011. It continues to be a painful process for me as I am striving to come to terms with his absence.

I thought it was ironic that I received a call today from documentary filmmaker Amanda Micheli’s representative. Amanda is an Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker who is currently working on an HBO documentary regarding dog bereavement.

Amanda recently lost her dog of many years and as a result of her loss, she has embarked on a new documentary film exploring the bonds we share with our dogs. The documentary focuses on pet loss and bereavement from the perspective of the special role and meaning dogs have for their human counterparts.

Amanda filmed with Betty Carmack’s pet loss group at the SPCA in San Francisco, and she is now looking to speak to people in other parts of the country who are facing end-of-life decisions for their long-time friends. She is particularly interested in talking with someone who is in the process of losing their working dog in order to explore this unique human-animal relationship.

I know firsthand what a sensitive issue this is but I thought I would share it with you and see if anyone might be interested. If you are, please contact me and I will put you in touch with Amanda’s representative.

Happy Birthday Morgan

May 1, 2011 · Posted in Service Dogs · 6 Comments 

As many of you may know, Franz and I had to say good-bye to our beloved Morgan on March 12, 2011. Morgan was a golden retriever who proudly served as my second assistance dog. He came to us 11 years ago and brought with him a silent, soulful, intense presence that changed our lives forever.

Today would have been Morgan’s 13th birthday. And although he is gone, the light he brought into our lives will continue to shine as long as Franz and I hold his memory in our hearts.

I have always heard of selfless love and devotion and putting someone or something’s needs above your own. But I can now say that I experienced that firsthand through my relationship with Morgan. He truly loved his job as an assistance dog and relished spending every moment at home with his family. Morgan taught us the meaning of the words loyalty, tolerance and patience.

Not many people knew Morgan. He never won any international prizes or reached the summit of Mount Everest. He never expected or demanded any accolades for his selfless acts. He just wanted to be by my side making sure I was safe and content.

Morgan ended his life doing just that. Although his body was failing him and his eyesight and hearing were almost completely gone and his immunity system had completely shut down, he still took pride in dressing in his backpack every day and taking his post beside my desk in my home office. Even as we prepared him for his final journey to the vet’s office that fateful Saturday morning, he donned his backpack and proudly assumed the heel position on the left side of my wheelchair.

Being a service dog was Morgan’s first priority. It was his career. It was all he knew and all he wanted to know. Even as he drew his final breath, in his mind, he was still working. As we gathered around him to express our love and heartfelt good-byes, Morgan lay by my wheelchair with dignity and pride.

Dignity was important to Morgan. And, I take comfort in the belief that Morgan knew he had completed his job to the best of his ability. He had given unconditional love and devotion and his job was finally done.

Now, Franz and I are left with the memories and photographs of this special being. There is a tremendous void in our hearts and home. We miss him terribly but we are so thankful that this golden boy graced our lives. We can only hope that we will be worthy of his service and devotion as we carry his memory with us forever.

Happy Birthday my precious golden boy and thank you for all that you did and continue to do for me. You were an angel who blessed us with your presence for a short time. Unfortunately, you could not stay with us forever. It was an unspoken agreement we made with nature from the moment you arrived. And unfortunately, nature came to reclaim her prize.

Good-bye my dear, sweet boy and thank you from the bottom of my heavy, but joy-filled heart.

As the Mexian poet Octavio Paz stated, “Love is an attempt at penetrating another being, but it can only succeed if the surrender is mutual.” For me and Morgan, there was never a question that it was mutual love from the moment our eyes met.