I am writing about Fiona, my Goldendoodle, who died September 24, 2018. She was a therapy dog for 6 years and had an instinct for knowing who needed her and how to behave around them. My proudest moment as her handler came in July 2016. We were at Morgan’s Wonderland, an “ultra-accessible” theme park. Fiona and I approached a family with a nonverbal teenage boy and his family. The boy drew away at first, but Fiona stood like a statue while the other family members petted her. After observing his family, the boy touched Fiona twice, quickly. Then he reached out to stroke her back, while she remained completely still. After he petted her, he signed, “Thank you,” to Fiona and me and went away laughing. His mother thanked us also and said we had made her son’s day. This experience was such a powerful example of the human-animal connection. I was in awe of Fiona, who did all of this with little to no help from me. I held her leash—and she did the rest. Rest in peace, sweet girl.

Story provided by Jean Johnson