Christopher Reeve

1952 – 2004. “I refuse to allow a disability to determine how I live my life.” Actor, director, and activist are just some of the words used to describe Christopher Reeve. From his first appearance at the Williamstown Theatre Festival at the age of 15, Reeve established a reputation as one of the country’s leading actors.

However, ever since he was paralyzed in an equestrian competition in 1995, Reeve not only put a human face on spinal cord injury but he motivated neuroscientists around the world to conquer the most complex diseases of the brain and central nervous system.

At 4 Paws, Christopher is a hero. He brought disability to light in a manner no one has ever done before, and the strides he made to bridge the gap between disabled and typical will never be forgotten.

Connor Millard


March 1, 1999 – September 18, 2007.

Connor is free and full of bliss,
given back to God with Mommy and Daddy’s everlasting kiss.
This sweet little boy, a gift from above,
he showed this world a special kind of love.
Nothing more to anchor him and prevent his play,
all is good in Heaven each and everyday.
A breath of fresh air, no longer a fight.
A football tucked under his arm,
he’ll play on his field of dreams every night.
Angels cheer on Team Connor to win,
his face aglow and beaming with a grin.
He’s done it again!
The angels cheer and one calls out, “Go Connor!”
As we stay here on earth and root him on in prayer and special honor.
He will also find the Rainbow Bridge in Heaven’s place.
A special furry friend has been waiting there for him and will run to him in the fastest pace.
He’ll jump on Connor with so much joy,
he’s waited just so long for his special boy.
And now the time is here, his boy is by his side!
No more lonesome nights for the boy he cried.
They’ll romp and they’ll run, they’re already best of friends with nothing to do but have lots of fun.
Connor’s face is wet from doggy kisses galore,
he’ll giggles and say, “You’re tickling me, stop, no more!”
Together they’ll be without worries or a care, laughing and snuggling, a wonderful pair.
All is good in Heaven, Connor will tell you so.
Nothing to hold him back from the places he will go.
Roam free, little Connor, eternal bliss is yours.
Just remember that lasting kiss though from those who loved you most here on earth and opened so many doors.
…Author Laura Baily

Hannah Gabrielle Chapman

May 30, 2001 – January 17, 2010. As I sit her looking at Koolio laying in the doorway to Hannah’s room I think about y’all at 4 Paws. I’m so thankful that my girl had her “Koo Yo” the last months she was on this earth.

She was happier, more social, her communication increased by leaps, and I was able to allow her to experience her world in a way she never had before because I knew I had help keeping her safe. I’m convinced Hannah’s 9 months with Koolio were her best.

Koolio took care of his girl. He went to school with her, he slept with her, and he played with her. I would wake up in the mornings listening to her tell her buddy good morning. “Hey buddy! Your such a good boy Koo Yo!” she’d say as over and over as she loved him up and he loved her up.

I think I’m especially thankful and I’ve been unable to share this with many people so bear with me as I try to recount it. I’ve always been terrified that Hannah would have a seizure in her sleep, I wouldn’t know it, and she’d die alone without aid. That fear was relieved somewhat when we got Koolio but not completely. It was always there and I rarely rested well at night.

The night Hannah had the seizure that took her life Koolio came and woke me up at 2:30. I was startled because he hadn’t awakened me before. His alerts had always been during the daytime. I immediately went in to check on Hannah. She seemed fine so I readied everything I’d need in case she did have a seizure. I then decided against going back to my bed and climbed in bed with her. I snuggled in close to her, kissed her a bunch of times and wrapped her in my arms. At 4:30 Koolio awoke me again.

This time he was intensely alerting me. He would not stop until he knew I was up and paying attention. Again I checked Hannah closely and made sure I had everything ready in case I needed it. At 5:30 a.m. Hannah had the seizure. Although Hannah never recovered from the seizure, I am eternally grateful to Koolio for his alerting. I was able to be with my girl, snuggle in close and kiss her bunches for the last time. She did not die alone, without aid, in her sleep, thanks to Koolio.

You guys do a wonderful thing at 4paws. It’s magical. I was worried about having a dog in the house. A big dog at that. I will never be without one now. They are marvelous creations. We love our Koolio and can’t imagine life without him.

Koolio is doing good. We can tell he misses his girl but he’s adjusting. I’m continuing to keep up his training. When I’m ready I will use him in awareness work. He and I together will continue to advocate. We will be grand representatives of 4 Paws.

Thanks again for all you do and the hope, relief and help your organization provides families like ours. We are eternally grateful.

God Bless! Marcey


November 15, 2006 – February 18, 2007. The name Kuma is Native American, and it means “Bear.” Kuma’s time with us was brief.
Our hope is that today he is playing with a young child in heaven who needed a special friend to wait with them until their parents join them.

We picture Kuma as I did when we named him, a large, cuddly, Teddy Bear with the child’s arms around his neck hugging him tightly. Kuma spent a brief few days with the women at Lakin Correctional where he was loved. April, one of his handlers, wrote the following poem for him.

Our Little Puppy

The puppy they gave us was named Kuma.
He was so adorable and loved to play.
I know he kept me happy all through the day.
We only had him a little while and he became very sick.
They came to take him away
then told us he’s gone to heaven to stay.
My heart hurts because you’re gone
Kuma, we prayed and waited for you to come home.
You are at peace and we must understand
that God has His reasons, and we just have to trust his plan.
Thanks for the joy you brought us while you were here.
Mommy number one and number two will never forget you my dear.
We have a picture with you, that we’ll keep forever
and we’ll always cherish the time we spent together…by April.

Louise Smith

Louise came to us for a dog, and she is one of the few adults we worked with. Loredo was the perfect match. He brought joy to her life and gave her a reason to get through each day.

Loredo served her well and now spends his days with her husband Ken and has taken a special place in his heart as well.


Evan Cousineau

November 3, 1997 – November 2, 2007. We never got to meet Evan. Diagnosed with ALD (Adrenoleukodystrophy), Evan longed for a service dog and we wanted to make that happen. Evan never made it to the training class we placed him in, and it is our hope that 4 Paws Service Dog Bongo who left for heaven withouthis young partner has once again found himself with a boy to love.

Here at 4 Paws we believe that for every dog which leaves us a special child in heaven needed a “Service Angel.” As hard as it is to see them go…to think of them beside a child, who perhaps is waiting for their parents, freed from their disability, and needing a special friend to help them wait for the day they will be reunited with their family…is comforting and a very special calling indeed.

We think they visit us in the gentle breeze of a summer’s night to make sure all is well on Earth, and maybe if we sit still and quiet we might feel them beside us: their warmth and their strength. Perhaps they come to see that another furry friend on Earth has stepped up to fill the loss in our hearts and to see that all is well.

In Loving Memory of Bongo

Loved by his partner, Connor April 26, 2005 – December 29, 2007. When a dog dies it is never an easy thing especially for those of us who’s animals are a part of the family. Today, December 29, 2006 the Good family lost a family member and their son Connor lost his 4 Paws Service Dog, Bongo to cancer.

Only 48 hours ago he was healthy and happy. He was struck by a rare cancer that once developing spreads through the body rapidly with completely affecting every organ. The cancer started one day ago and rapidly spread to his entire body.

Bongo has gone to the Rainbow Bridge to wait for his young partner. For Bongo it will be a long wait but I imagine God must have a very special place in heaven for service dogs. I like to think that when a service dog is lost to us on earth they are brought to be with a child in heaven who left earth all to early and needed a special dog by their side for awhile.

I hope that Ben, the founder of 4 Paws, the little dogs we have lost in our rescue work, and Bongo might meet one another and become a part of the 4 Paws Family who have arrived before them. Boomer, as he was known during his stay with us, was rescued from a back yard breeder by a wonderful group in Kentucky, The Wayne County Humane Society, with his 5 brothers and sisters. The group knew immediately that this little family belonged at 4 Paws and that the puppies will grow up to do great things. As a puppy he grew up with a 4 Paws Puppy Raiser, the Rice Family. They loved Boomer and it is no doubt he had a wonderful “puppyhood” before starting his formal training with 4 Paws.

When he was ready, Boomer Too became Bongo, earlier this year. Though his service dog work was far too short he was truly loved and welcomed by his young partner, Connor who gave him his name, and his new family.

Bailey Belle

4 Paws Mobility Assistance Dog. Human Partner: Judi Reed

It is with sadness we announce the loss of Bailey. She lost her struggle with cancer today – June 12, 2007 She was 10 1/2 years old and did her job well and right up to the end. Bailey was one of the two first dogs taken in and placed through 4 Paws in 1999.

We got her from a Golden Retriever rescue where she had been sent for “eating the couch” in not one but two homes :0) All she needed was a little interaction and some training and she turned out to be a fine, well loved, and respected service dog. I am sure the kids at the elementary school where Judi works will miss her visits.

I remember when Judi first met Bailey and said, “What? I wanted a red golden retriever, not a blond one.” Today Judi would give anything for one more day with Bailey. I know that Ben, who watches over all “his” dogs which graduate from 4 Paws was waiting for her at the rainbow bridge and I know the four little puppies we lost this past week will have Bailey to mother them. They were so tiny.

My guess is the 4 Paws service dogs and puppies who have gone before us are having a celebration tonight to welcome Bailey home. While Bailey is young and able to run freely again, it is a hard loss for the teammate left behind.

Mark Echterling

Mark came to 4 Paws, after being diagnosed with brain cancer, asking if we could give his dogs the recognition they deserve. While we rarely certify dogs that have not been trained through our agency, these special dogs did indeed deserve the 4 Paws titles of 4 Paws Service Dog, UKC GR CH Tumbledowns Moon Shadow DSA, PDX, TDI, CGC, Penn Hip, OFA El.

Shadow has the following credentials:  Dog Scouts of America Certificate of Merit Awards, Therapy Dog International, ATTS Temperament Test, Obstacle Course 1, 2, 3, Naked Dog Obedience (No leash or collar), Shape Painting, Shape Musical Instruments, Drill Team, Tracking, Back Packing, Hiking (off leash), Biking, Carting, Weight Pulling, Herding, Water Safety 1 and 2, Community Service and Honor Scout.

4 Paws Service Dog UKC GR CH RBIMBS Royal Echos Maximum TT, TDI, CGC, PDX, DSA, OFA. Max has the following credentials: Third male ever to make Grand Champion in the UKC, Dog Scouts of America Certificate of Merit Awards, Therapy Dog International, Temperament Test, Obstacle Test 1, 2, 3, Agility 1 and 2, Rally Obedience, Naked Dog Obedience (no leash or collar), Art of Shape Painting, Shaping Musical Instruments, Drill Team, Tracking, Back Packing, Hiking (off leash), Biking, Frisbee Dog, Carting, Weight Pulling, Herding, Water Safety 1 and 2, Water Rescue 1, First Aid, DSA Community Service Award and Honor Scout.

On September 9, 2004 Mark lost his battle with cancer and moved on to wait by the rainbow bridge for his service dogs Max and Shadow to join him. I am sure there are many dogs there who lived awesome lives because of Mark’s rescue efforts to wait with him. During his life Mark founded the National White German Shepherd Rescue, Echo Dogs. He and his dogs won the many awards and titles listed above.

We are proud to have had him join the 4 Paws For Ability Family and to have added Shadow and Max to our list of awesome 4 Paws Service Dogs going above and beyond the call of duty.