Remembering Therapy Golden Retriever George

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Their Companion No More

Part of George’s uniqueness was his uncanny ability to sense human suffering, Kostad said, and attach himself to those in pain.Sometimes, George would notice residents beginning to slip away even before the valley staff or their families did, Kostad said, and would begin spending extra time in their rooms.

Once George followed one of the home’s housekeepers around for most of a Friday, and though she’d felt no pain before, she was hospitalized that weekend for a heart ailment, Kostad said. After that, it became a joke among staff members and some residents that it was a bad omen if George followed you around too long, and if he did, perhaps you should head to the doctor for a checkup.

George’s caretaking skills came from years of practice. His first owner was a social worker in Jamestown, N.D., who used to take him along to visit ailing clients. After she died suddenly, George spent some time at an assisted living center south of Bismarck before coming to the Valley Memorial Home in 2002.

“This is pretty much what he did his entire life,” Kostad said.

During Tuesday’s memorial service, the home’s two chaplains read Bible verses and poems, including the “Prayer of St. Francis,” the great animal lover. Staff members and residents shared memories of George and the chaplains led the group in a prayer for George.

“Like an angel, he was there to comfort those in need,” that prayer said in part, “and made us feel loved when we needed it the most. As we say goodbye to this wonderful companion dog, we are thankful for the gift we have received of having been a part of his life as well.”