When a pet passes away, it can be difficult to find the compassionate and loving support that are given when a human dies. Pet Partners' staff and constituents recognize that our companion, service, and/or therapy animals are part of our families and have a special spirit.
Those of us who have enjoyed the comfort and unconditional love animals provide look for ways to celebrate the bond. Some choose to show their appreciation for these animals through donations to Pet Partners to help further our mission of improving human health through service and therapy animals.
For those people that choose to memorialize their animal(s) in the amount of $100 or more, Pet Partners will add the pet’s photo and story to the Pet Memorials section of our website for six months. Please complete and send in the Animal Website Memorial Form when making a donation to ensure that your memorial is posted.
Gemma Brennan - Pet Partners Therapy Dog with Susanna Brennan
Memories of Gemma, a Pet Partners Angel
Gemma came to us as an 8-week-old puppy from Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) in 1999, bred to become a service dog. My husband and I were puppy raisers for CCI and Gemma was our fourth Retriever to raise for the program. Unfortunately, Gemma was released due to extreme fear of loud noises so she officially became our dog at the age of 18 months. I was disappointed she failed but thrilled she could come back to us to care for her. Throughout the next 15 years we were blessed with Gemma. There were untold incredibly beautiful moments, but none as special as the times she was working for Pet Partners.
One place she worked was Mass General Hospital for Children in Salem, MA and cheered up the children there each week including making a special, lifelong friend of one girl, Erin. When we moved to Florida she worked for Moorings Park Retirement Community and the Shelter for Abused Women and Children in Naples.
Up until October of 2013 when I had to retire Gemma, she always looked forward to putting on her Pet Partners scarf which meant she was going to visit hurting people. She celebrated her 15th birthday with us on February 11, 2014. We are forever grateful to God for giving us such a special, beautiful girl who helped so many during her time here on earth. She will forever be remembered in our hearts.
~ Susanna Brennan
Willoughby Cucaz - Pet Partners Therapy Dog with Jill Cucaz
Willoughby Cucaz crossed the Rainbow Bridge this past summer. He was 11 years old and a cancer survivor for the last four years of his life. Willoughby was a beautiful honey-colored golden retriever with a huge heart and a love for life. He enjoyed being with people of all ages.
Willoughby and I were HOPE certified in 2006 at the Bozeman, Montana summer workshop. He was my traveling companion for 12 days, driving cross country together from Richmond, Virginia to Bozeman. It was on that trip that we became soul mates, just the two of us journeying all those miles together. He helped me when I thought I could not drive another mile and comforted me when a tornado was close by while driving through South Dakota.
Willoughby touched a lot of people, especially children. For many years we were members of the Dogs on Call program at VCU Medical Center in Richmond. He brought many smiles and laughter to children on the Pediatrics floor. Willoughby and I visited Children’s Hospital of Richmond. We also took part in the Paws to Read Program at two local libraries in Chesterfield, Virginia. Several times a year, Willoughby would visit my school and 5th grade class. Every special education class in the school made sure they got to visit with Willoughby too.
Sadly, four years ago Willoughby was diagnosed with cancer and had a lump removed from his back leg. Two years later, he underwent surgery for a thyroid condition. The following summer, a large mass was detected on his spleen and the spleen was removed. Throughout all his surgeries and setbacks, Willoughby never lost his love of life. He was a fighter to the very end.
Our final call-out together was for super storm Sandy. We traveled over Thanksgiving to my hometown of Point Pleasant Beach, NJ. The town was devastated and the people were feeling helpless. We drove around town, stopping and talking with friends and neighbors. When Willoughby was spotted in the car, a sense of comfort overcame many people as they petted him and asked questions. One man lifted Willoughby out of the car and carried him to a debris-free place to stand as the man’s children hugged him.
Willoughby will always be in my heart. Our family misses him but we know he is now free from all his pain. Rest in peace Wills.
~ Jill Cucaz
Tara - Pet Partners Therapy Dog with Sharrie Dickinson
Tara traveled the USA and Canada, as you can see by the photos. From the Atlantic Ocean, to Michigan, to our home in Alabama, to the Pacific Ocean, and states in between. She saw Buffalo in WY, went on a whale watching cruise in Nova Scotia, thought she owned Dale Hollow Lake in TN, just to name a few. She seemed to get a lot of pleasure in all she did.
She visited the local Children's & Women's hospital, on pet assisted therapy visits and could not wait to see the children. She never met a stranger, but her first love was the children. Since she was such a wonderful ambassador for the hospital, she was in a couple of commercials and her photo is currently on a loop being shown in the brand new addition to the hospital.
She is the first dog we ever had that NEVER did anything wrong, from the day she was a puppy to her passing in August of this year. She worked, most of her life, trying to train us to do what "she" wanted. I could write pages and pages about her and the comfort and pleasure she brought to others, especially us.
We all — nurses, Child Life Specialists, volunteer staff and especially her family — miss her terribly and know that God is watching over her.
Precious — Joyce and David Fleissner
A Tribute to Precious
Precious was a female Shih Tzu dog who lived for over eight years. She had congenital organ problems; undersized liver and kidneys, however an oversized heart. She lived her life with many veterinary visits and despite shots, tests and a specialized diet, she lived her life courageously.
Precious was the child between Joyce and I. She was kind, gentle, empathetic and very loving. Joyce points to the fact that she never hurt anyone. People loved Precious and that love kept her alive for eight years. She had an accident after eight years that exacerbated her health problems.
She lives in the memories of people that she touched. We believe Precious is in Heaven waiting for Joyce and I. We do look forward to meeting Precious in Heaven.
We love you Precious, ~ Joyce and David, your pack and family
Tootie (aka 'Toots') – Pet Partners therapy dog with Ruth Ann Lloyd
In loving memory of Tootie
(February 2001 – May 11, 2013)
Tootie and Ruth Ann were registered as a Pet Partners therapy animal team for nearly nine years in Wasilla, Alaska. They made weekly visits to the Alaska Veterans and Pioneer Home in Palmer to visit the residents and dedicated staff. Ruth Ann and Tootie were also very dedicated and everyone who knew them was heartbroken when Tootie crossed the Rainbow Bridge last May. Reprinted below is an excerpt from Ruth Ann’s article submission that was published in the Spring/Summer 2008 edition of Interactions. Rest in peace, Tootie, and thank you for all the joy and comfort you brought to people in need!
“My Golden Retriever Tootie and I are working girls every Tuesday here in Alaska. Our routine begins with thorough grooming for both of us so that we look our best and stay healthy to do our job as a working team. Tootie then dons her National Delta Society green jacket and I always have our National Delta Society ID tags.
“The residents that live in the ‘Homestead Neighborhood’ are some of our very special friends (specialized case residents). Most have advanced dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or have had a stroke, but they love seeing Tootie. We spend an hour with them, and it is not long enough. We see Wynona; she’s had a stroke, and can only use her right hand. Wynona doesn’t talk to Tootie, but I know she knows we’re there because she has a little twinkle in her eyes. We move the chair so Tootie’s front legs and head can rest in Wynona’s lap and she touches Tootie with her good hand. When Wynona’s family comes to visit they love seeing Tootie and I. They report they can always see a positive difference in their mom after we have been there.
“Tootie is allowed on the plastic furniture here so she sits on the sofa for a special break next to some of her friends. One lady was raised around sled dogs, so she loves interacting with a dog again. Jack always smiles when he see us because he has learned to walk Tootie. Other residents are encouraged to walk with Tootie and I. I believe it makes them aware of their surroundings and they are constantly watching the dog to take care & be responsible for her (even through Tootie is watching/listening for my commands). It’s great that the residents get extra exercise and verbalization while interacting with Tootie.
“It’s hard work but we know we’ve made a difference in our friends’ day just by doing our teamwork for payment of smiles, laughter, and hugs — just like so many other Pet Partners, we love every minute of it.” ~ Ruth Ann Lloyd, 2007
Sheyne, Pet Partners Therapy Dog - John & Miriam Melnick
Lucas, Pet Partners Therapy Dog - Jan Stice
This is in memory of my sweet, gentle-spirited boy, Lucas, who was a Collie/Golden mix. He was 11 1/2 yrs old and was a Pet Partners therapy animal and a R.E.A.D. dog. I adopted him at the age of approx 3 1/2 yrs after finding him on the petfinder website. I live in Salem, Va and he was located in N.C. I remember singing to him all the way home so he wouldn’t be too stressed! After 7 months, he passed his Pet Partners evaluation and since then we had done a lot of AAA/AT in our community. Lucas was my Pet Partners teammate for over 7 yrs. He did volunteer work at hospitals, facilities, libraries and in hospice. He was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy in August of 2012 and was taken for his last ride on June 10, 2013. He accepted and adapted with his usual gentle, loving way as his limitations grew. He was officially retired from Pet Partners after it was clear he could not continue as he should. A facility we visited for all of his career honored him with a retirement picture and comments in their central hallway. Even then, I had a few residents ask me where the big, red dog was.
Lucas' very first patient at a hospital had a tracheostomy tube and I wondered how he would react to this with the obvious difference in appearance and the whistling noise the trach made. He cocked his head, smelled the trach lightly and was ready to visit!
I remember us attending the outside funeral of a hospice patient we had been seeing. It had an enclosed chain link fence all around the cemetery and we all were sitting in a semi-circle facing the pastor with us on one end. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lucas’ ears perk up and I knew he had seen something. It was two deer trying to find their way out and they were walking along the fence! Lucas never barked or moved from his sitting position, but he kept his eyes on those deer! Another hospice patient’s son honored Lucas by including his picture on his Dad’s picture gallery at his viewing.
Lucas will be greatly missed by all who knew him. I was so fortunate to have had him in my life and to work with him bringing some happiness to others. ~Jan Stice
Tia, Pet Partners Therapy Dog — Janet and Henry Ramser
When Tia lost her best friend, Zechariah (Zak, Zakie), she was weakened. She was born with a “compromised immune system”, but lived 8 ½ years with several medications. She never lost her zest for life. She provided inspiration to suffering patients, families and nurses at the hospital. Tia knew who was hurting and she would take the initiative to be near them.
The cost of keeping Tia alive was too high for a less therapeutic dog. But her initial PetPartners’ evaluation rated her in the Complex category. For those of you who know the difficulty of Complex, you will understand why a serious financial investment was justified.
When we eventually replaced Zechariah with another Dobie pup (Bentley), Tia gave Bentley all the parenting nurture she could for three months, until Tia’s health was at the “hospice” state of existence. Occasional spurts of zest occurred in Tia, but as Tia’s appetite diminished, we knew the end was near. Bentley arrived on 1/19/13. Tia died 4/22/13. Brief, but precious days of companionship.
Where ever I was, at home or in the field, Tia would come and check on me. When it was time to wake up, Tia gave me a gentle nose touch. When eating a snack in the kitchen in wee hours of the night, I felt that gentle nose touch. Tia was so gentle & quiet that she could just “appear” in the “quiet of the night”, having not heard her approach.
Only an Angel can be that quiet, for which Tia was fully qualified. The institutional patients and nurses whom Tia visited felt her gentleness. People sometimes question whether a Doberman can be a therapy dog. Their emotional sensitivity to suffering leaves them completely exhausted. As they ride home, they fall sound asleep.
Bentley has graciously accepted the mantle to carry forth the therapeutic legacy of Zechariah and Tia. The Holy Spirit has accepted Zechariah & Tia into eternity. Bentley is now blessed by that gracious “touch” which his forbearers left him. With the weary hearts of weary soldiers, Zechariah & Tia have crossed the Rainbow Bridge and now rest in the holy land. Bentley carries within him, the grace of an enduring legacy.
We give thanks to Pet Partners for Certification Evaluators, as well as Gateway Medical Center’s Volunteer Director, Sandy Wooten, for providing Tender Paws a home base for operations and outreach into the community.
Henry & Janet Ramser
Paris Hilton, Pet Partners Therapy Dog — Dr. Brenda Carroll
September 19, 2010 — January 4, 2013
||Paris was a Pet Partners therapy dog at the Yuma Regional Cancer Center for almost a year. Although her time was short, she provided the comfort cancer patients needed, even at a time of adversity. Patients would look forward to Paris’ office visits as much as Dr. Carroll’s office visits. She loved her toys and treats and would sometimes twirl her way back to the office. Paris brought a comforting presence, love and joy to the patients and staff at YRCC. Paris would bring a smile to anyone she was in contact with and will be missed dearly.
I lost a treasured friend today
The little dog who used to lay
Her gentle head upon my knee
And share her silent thoughts with me.
She'll come no longer to my call,
Retrieve no more her favorite ball
A voice far greater than my own
Has called her to His golden throne.
And though my eyes are filled with tears,
I thank Him for the happy years
He let her spend down here with me,
And for her love and loyalty.
Zechariah, Pet Partners Therapy Dog — Janet and Henry Ramser
Zechariah's origin on earth is unknown, but his spirit was a gift from somewhere beyond. A Doberman Rescue team passed him on to us for earthly care in 2001. He was family henceforth and forever. His original female companion was Maia who eventually died (cancer induced bone fracture). Then along came puppy Tia who immediately became his affectionate companion.
Zechariah became a Pet Partners Therapy Dog around age 2, faithfully serving several Clarksville assisted living facilities, nursing homes and Gateway Hospital for the next 8 years.
His compassion and composure was unflappable. His intuition for human suffering was beyond measure. Around age ten, arthritis prohibited him from the necessary walking involved with patient visiting. However, by then he had shown Tia the ropes, and she found her place for therapy dog service.
Zecharia was a very muscular male, with floppy ears and a silky smooth coat. He would bring calmness to an overactive child, snuggling next to them. He was a safe-haven to the down trodden whose way in life was lost. Was he the embociment of the Holy Spirit? Some would say he was.
We will forever treasure the time that we had with Zechariah. He was indeed very special. He has now gone back to be with our Heavenly Father.