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Honey the Wonder Dog reaches 'end of tour'

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By Deborah Goad

By Deborah Goad
Citizen Correspondent

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March 2 was a very sad day for many as final goodbyes were said to Honey “the Wonder Dog.”

Recently celebrating her eighth birthday, Honey's health had been steadily declining and the time had come to release her from her pain.

Honey was a decorated medical service dog and companion to Michael Gaither for the past eight years.

She saved his life many times by calling 911 when he'd fall him his wheelchair, barking two times into the receiver, alerting dispatchers to send help. Honey would wake him when he lost his oxygen mask, take him his medication and assist him with daily needs.

Gaither, who suffers from PTSD, multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis, found his life unbearable before Honey came into it. She gave him the will to live.

Through Kids for K9's, a program designed to teach children in Levy and Gilchrist County schools the value of all service dogs, Honey touched many children. Visiting hospices and veterans’ programs, Honey gave countless demonstrations showing the benefits of medical service dogs.

Levy County Sheriff's Department units and the AMVETS Patriot Guard Riders from Leesburg escorted Honey to the UF Small Animal Hospital in Gainesville.

In attendance at Honey's "End of Duty” send-off was Sheriff Bobby McCallum, deputies and their K-9 partners, Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell, deputies and their K-9 partners, UF Police officers and their K-9 partners, veterans from around Central Florida, Haven Hospice volunteers, hospital staff and friends.

Nicole Smith, Constituent Services supervisor from congressman Dr. Neal Dunn's office presented the Gaither's with an American flag that was flown in Honey's honor over the U.S. Capitol.

Marion Loghrin Bolten played the bagpipes in the distance while Judge James T. Browning read a tearful prayer for Honey, written for Honey by Barbara Snow of the U.S. War Dogs Association. Walking past salutes from officers and their K-9's, Honey made her way into the small animal hospital. The solemn song of the bagpipes could be heard as friends said their goodbyes.