On July 8, we had to put our beloved Micah to sleep. It was much too soon. He would have been 8 years old on July 29. He is suspected to have suffered mesenteric torsion (twisting of the intestines) and was in septic shock. It has been a devastating loss for us. He was our empty nest “child”. I know we all love our pets, but this boy was truly exceptional and led a life full of adventure. Our hearts are broken.
Please let me share some information about him:
- Boy Wonder (our name for him when he was in training to be a service dog)
- Hello you sweet thing (what Deb said to him every day)
- He went on over 50 flights while he was a service dog in training. Many of these trips were personal, but he did also accompany Deb on a few business trips. He’s been to a couple industry conferences.
- He traveled to 25 states (from MA to FL to AZ and all the states in between)
- He was a gentle giant (100 pound chocolate brown Labradoodle)
- While he did not complete training and go into service, he did become a certified therapy dog going with Deb to visits at an Alzheimer’s Clinic, Girl Scout camp, children’s Library reading program.
We got him at 7 weeks old; Deb signed up with Canines for Service to foster him to become a service dog. Went to training one night weekly for two years, then every other week for a year, then back to weekly for advanced training. He was placed with a woman with mobility issues. It broke our hearts to give him up. It wasn’t a good fit and a week later we were asked if we wanted to take him back. We decided that it was a bonus to get a few more months with him. When we got him back, he refused to look at Deb in the car on the ride home.
We had a few more months with him and then he went to a facility for 3 months of additional training for potential placement with a veteran. He became inconsistent and we were again called to be told this and were asked if we wanted him back. At the time, I was in PA and Deb was in Germany. Of course, we said yes and I went and got him when I got home from my trip. Deb came home a few days later and I captured their reunion on videotape; he wouldn’t stop kissing her.
When he was bored, he would disappear into a bedroom and come running out with something he shouldn’t have in his mouth to make us chase him. Or he would take a kitchen towel and run off with it and we had to get to him before he stepped on it and shredded it. We had a rule, if he had something and there were at least two people in the house, someone just had to shout “need help” and that meant everyone come running to trap him before he destroyed whatever it was he had. Or when bored and hungry he would toss a toy that held treats. He would drop it on your lap or toss it in your general direction and then bark loudly. So we would go put treats in them for him to shake out. We began to realize he was training us.
While he was a service dog-in-training, we took him everywhere. People would come up to pet him and we would often hear a comment about his eyes: “they look so real”, “he has human eyes”, “he’s looking right into my soul”.
Because of his look and his height, if people didn’t guess him to be a Labradoodle, they would most commonly guess him to be an Irish Wolfhound. We would tell them he was a Labradoodle, with one exception – if we were asked on St. Patrick’s Day, we would say that yes, he was an Irish Wolfhound. Once, while in a store, a little girl asked Deb, “Ma’am what’s your pony’s name?” Another time, I overheard a little girl say to her sister, “mira a el caballo” (look at the horse).
Throughout his life he received exceptional care from Dr. Gerianne Pandolfi and her staff at Four Oaks Pet Hospital. We truly believe she loved him as much as we did. He was never afraid to go there.
I think he was meant to be forever Deb’s dog right from the beginning. The love and training she gave to Micah was immeasurable. The love he gave back was equally immeasureable.
These are some of the commands and things he knew how to do:
- Touch shut (to close doors, drawers, cabinets)
- Touch light (turn on light switch)
- Touch dark (turn off light switch)
- Leave it
- Tug open
- Hold hands
- Around (turn around and lay down between your feet)
- Drop it
- Hip (to push open a door)
- Go through
- Could open a refrigerator and take a bottle of water from the shelf on the door
- Could pick up clothes, sheets, towels and put them in a top loader laundry
- Could take clothes out of the dryer
- Could pick up off the floor: pen, dime, quarter, paper bills, trash, car keys, cell phone, remote control, carry them to you and give them to you or put them where you told him to
- Could carry shopping bag
- Wouldn’t eat human food; could leave him alone in a room with food on a plate on the floor and he wouldn’t touch it (I left him in the car with a pound of salmon in the front seat to run into the grocery for something and he was sitting in the back seat waiting for me and the salmon was untouched)
- And of course when he didn’t feel like doing any of these things, he would just stand there and stare at you as if you’re speaking another language (the look on his face was: you know I can do it, I know I can do it, I just practiced it five times and am not doing it again)
Contributions in memory of Micah may be made to Canines for Service