Golden Thunder … a much needed best friend

371-6m5passagesembeddedprod_affiliate4.jpg While animals do not always bridge the gap for autistic children, it is a very special thing when they can truly make that all important difference. In this photo by Hector Amezoua, it seems like just a typical family scene. But, it is anything but.

Evan Moulton climbed onto Thunder’s back and giggled. He lay down, put his head on Thunder’s belly, and giggled. He let Thunder wrestle with him and dance with him and shake his hand, and every time, he giggled.

There’s a reason the Moulton family calls their golden retriever “Thunder, the Wonder Dog.” Nine-year-old Evan never used to smile. In fact, for a number of years, he only screamed – a bloodcurdling shriek that lasted for hours.


Angels in Disguise: Remembering Shasta Weathersby


This is Golden Georgia, a sweet girl who was only with us four short years, having been diagnosed at age two with lymphoma. Georgia’s mom is talented author Patricia Kennedy, of Bailey Bymyside: Golden Lessons for Life fame. It seems fitting that this Georgia peach represent our fallen furry angels.

This special memorial was shared with me by Barb Justice, Golden Retriever Rescue of North Texas Director.

Shasta (Chaska) was a very special dog. This is what I know about her:

Shasta had SARD (sudden acquired retinal degeneration) where dogs become blind overnight. This would have been when she was about 2. Her family evidently spent a lot of time training her and working with her as she came to me knowing 21 different commands to help her navigate her environment. Her hearing was very acute as she could find a bouncing ball and play catch in this manner. She could also shake hands and speak on command.

She came to me at age 7 when her owners were being transferred overseas (they didn’t go) and their daughter was going off to college (Shasta was her dog). Katie, the daughter, was very upset about Shasta going to a new home, but her father didn’t seem to have any compassion at all. The leave-taking was difficult to say the least.

She adapted to my house very quickly and within a week, could go in and out the doggie door. She never had an accident in the house. She pretty much spent all of her time in the den and kitchen and our bedroom, finding her way around pretty easily. There were a few bumps along the way, but once she figured out the lay of the house, she navigated it smoothly. We did not move furniture and tried to keep new obstacles out of her way.

She loved the water and a friend of mine a couple of houses down had a pool, so I took her swimming there for exercise. I would give her a rubber ball to swim around with and she used this as a bumper to keep from running into the edges of the pool; however, it didn’t take her long to know where the boundaries were anyway.

I rescued a turtle one day and put it in the backyard. It didn’t take Shasta long to find the turtle and it became her best friend. No matter where the turtle would go or bury itself, she would find it and bring it in the house and cuddle with it. However, when she was through, she would get up and leave it and I would find the turtle in various rooms in the house. Don’t think the friendship was a two-way deal! I finally had to give the turtle to my son as she was beginning to scratch his shell picking him up so often. She looked for it for a long time after he was gone. She also had a favorite toy and could find the basket of toys to retrieve it. It was never very far from her, and I still have it.

Shasta became a therapy dog after I had had her for about three months. She passed the temperament test easily and went on to become registered with Therapy Dogs Incorporated nationally, and Heart of Texas Therapy Dogs locally. She visited once a month at Arden Courts, an Alzheimer’s facility, and delighted the residents with her beautiful eyes, “golden smile,” and friendliness. She would shake hands with them and “speak” when asked. As I said in her memorial, even though she hadn’t seen the sunshine in many years, she brought lots of it into the lives of everyone she met.

Shasta developed a melanoma of her left eye and underwent removal of this eye. She tolerated the surgery well, but had some kind of catastrophic event a few days later. My vet came to my house and as I held her, she went peacefully over the rainbow bridge. In hindsight, I wish I had not put her through the surgery, but I really felt she had a few more good years. She was an amazing dog in every way, and her spirit was truly an inspiration. I loved her dearly.

I know this is more than you can use, but take whatever you think will be of benefit to others. Shasta would love to know she was an inspiration and encouragement to others. She overcame blindness, a change in home late in life, and the challenge of being a therapy dog. She did all these things successfully and without losing her golden spirit and love of life. It was a blessing that we found each other. Coleta