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Starr was a once-in-a-lifetime dog.

Back in 2011 I took part in a worldwide Secret Santa gift exchange. My match, I later found, was located in Milwaukee and was involved in animal rescue. I told her about the fact that we’d been searching in vain for a dog to train as a certified Autism service dog for my son, and she was blown away by the fact that a dog precisely fitting our needs was her new foster dog. We met her and she was ours from that moment on.

With minimal training, Starr became his therapist. She intuitively knew when he needed to be calmed down and would place herself in the center of a room to stop him from stimming repetitively. She would lay on his bed, letting him hold her velvety ear to fall asleep. She would sit next to him and lick his arms or legs, similar to brushing therapy. In public, her leash and harness were an anchor for him and he felt safer and more comfortable with his companion in crowds.

When he went to school, she wasn’t needed for public access any more, but was still an integral part of our family. She was a guardian and nanny to all three of our children, always watchful and close. She was a comforting presence for all of us, a constant and a companion.

I worked in the pet industry for many years, and never did I meet a dog like her.

After watching her deteriorate over the past several months, she was struggling to do the job she took so seriously in caring for our family. We are grateful that she wasn’t in pain or distress and that we were able to let her go in peace.

She will be forever missed.

From: Casey Umhoefer
New Glarus, WI