Story and photos submitted by Patty
13 years ago Darby came into my life as a possible service dog. He lived with me for 13 months while he trained. After advanced training with the professional trainers for our organization, he worked for 6 years as a service dog with a teenage boy. Since he wasn't able to go to school with his boy, he spent his days at home with the family's other 2 disabled children. Darby was retired when he was 7 and came back to live with us. The same qualities that made Darby a great service dog have continued in his retired life.
We have fostered kittens and their first exposure to dogs was this gentle, 70+ pound sweetheart. He has let them walk all over him, play with his tail, stick their little heads in his ears and mouth. His tolerance is beyond patience as he seems to really enjoy the tiny creatures. He lived with our other dogs, serving as balance to our cranky male and comforting our female during thunderstorms. He was lonely when they died and in time we decided to adopt a dog that spent 7 years in a puppy mill. One of the requirements was a mentally sound dog in the house already to show the puppy mill survivor how to be a dog. Darby was the perfect companion for this very damaged dog. He has patiently taught her everything; demonstrating what the commands we use mean, where to go potty, and all the house rules for dogs. At the beginning he comforted her as she adjusted to a house, toys, food, and love. He has been her best friend and constant companion as she tries to process an onslaught of new experiences. He showed her how to accept love from people, something she had no idea about when she came. Even 3 years later he waits for her to go in the house first because he knows that is the best way to get her in. He is always in the same room as she is, always where she can see him. He allows her to nose her way into any love fest we have going on.
I'm completely convinced that there is no greater soul in man or dog than this sweet, sweet dog. He personifies every quote about good dogs. For 13 years he has become even better, even more dear every day. I don't have the words to explain how much it has meant to have this dog in our lives.