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  • Writer's picturedianehaig

Annie Carries On

There was no way he would outlive the feisty puppy he welcomed into his home. Cancer is cruel and with Amlydosis on top of that, every day was a treasure. After the loss of the love of his life to Ovarian cancer and a short-lived second marriage, Bob lived alone knowing his days would be short.

While he was well enough to do so, he volunteered at the U of M hospital transporting patients and helping people find their way around the hospital. He thought it was important to provide comfort to people in stressful situations and he made it his mission to do so while he could. After some time and multiple treatment plans, he could no longer carry out his voluntary work and spent more and more time at home alone.

It was clear that Bob needed a companion. Everybody in our family has at least one dog. Bob needed a dog. He was lonely. His grown children and I (his little sister) encouraged him to get one knowing that one of us would most likely inherit the dog when he left us. It wasn’t too hard to get him to agree and when he did he knew exactly what he was looking for; a very fuzzy dog that was not too small and not too big. We saw an Icelandic Sheepdog at a dog show and he fell in love.

There are not many Icelandic Sheepdog breeders in Michigan. Bob found one and asked to have his name on the list for a pup. The litter was born a few months after and almost as if there was some sort of divine intervention there was one female that was not spoken for. The rest of the pups went to people who had been waiting for over a year! Bob and Annie were now a team.

They were inseparable. Annie went with him everywhere. They had a morning routine with snuggling and playtime before breakfast and then a brief walk, weather permitting. She loved it when his children and grandchildren would visit. Always barking and trying to herd the kids around the yard. Bob and Annie took road trips and camped in his trailer. They were quite the pair.

Bob and I visited our Dad every Saturday before Dad passed away at 103. Annie was a regular on the visits as was my dog Bud. Although Bud was much bigger and older, he was gentle with Annie and they were good friends. Bob and I were glad. Knowing more than likely Annie would someday be living with Bud.

When Bob needed to be hospitalized for treatments Annie would stay with me. My husband welcomed her with open arms to our home. We both assured Bob that Annie would be loved in our home for the rest of her life when the time came.

Bob moved into a hospice facility in September of 2021. Annie became a permanent member of my household.

Watching and waiting while Bob was dying I struggled with the need to do something. Bob and I talked about the possibility of having Annie trained to be a therapy dog. She had the perfect sunny disposition for it, people loved her and she loved people. So he lay in his hospital bed and I sat nearby and we searched the internet for therapy dog groups. We found one near where I lived and I called right away. Finally, something I could do.

Annie passed her evaluation with flying colors. When the trainer asked me if she could follow basic commands I had to answer that I didn’t know but I would surely teach her.

Annie and I enrolled in the Pawsitive Changes Therapy Dog (PCTD) Class in the fall of 2021. She did a beautiful job in the class and we both learned so much. Graduation was a few weeks off and Bob was getting weaker. We had to move up Annie’s graduation.

Karen, PCTD, Director put in a rush order for Annie’s official therapy dog vest. Karen, Annie, and I visited hospice so that Bob could witness her vesting ceremony. He even wore a PCTD shirt for the occasion. He was so proud. He passed away not long after peacefully knowing Annie was in good hands and was carrying on to bring joy and comfort to others as she had to him in the few years they were together.

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