On Mother's Day, a friend of mine died. I knew Sue through Saint Francis Service Dogs. She was one of the first people to be partnered with a St. Fran dog, and his name is Barkley. Yes Barkley is 12 years old, and he was by her side for ten years. Barkley will continue to live out his life with Sue's husband and family. He is a very sweet golden retriever who loves life and people.
Sue was one of these people who never met a stranger, always took a moment to stop and talk to people who wanted to know about Barkley and service dogs, and always had time to talk to friends and ask how they were doing and leave them with a smile. She had a myriad of health problems, and was on supplemental oxygen at all times. She had seizures. Barkley knew to lay across her during a seizure, and then to go for help or the phone afterwards.
We live in a small town, and every time we went into Walmart or Krogers someone invariably would say, "you just missed Sue and Barkley".
During one of our partner classes, Sue told a funny story about Barkley. At night when he needs to go out to park (bathroom), he waited until one of them turned on his flashlight and handed it to him. He then would go out with the flashlight to do whatever business he wanted to do. Then, he will come back inside and hand back his flashlight. So funny, so sweet!
Sue's memorial service was this past Monday. Barkley was sitting with the family. There were also five of us with our service dogs who attended the service, plus lots of family and friends. Sue's son is in the Marines in Iraq, and the service was postponed until he could get home to be here for it.
Sue's husband said that Barkley is okay as long as they can keep him busy, but then he starts looking for Sue. It is so very sad, because it's impossible to explain to an animal that the person is gone.