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Norm’s Story — From Rescue to Service Dog

Norm’s Story — From Rescue to Service Dog

Editor’s Note: This is an absolute must-read for every animal lover out there. For those of you who — like me — consider your four-legged friends very important members of your family, you will relate to this guest post from one of our very special Care2 members, Bill. Bill shared his home and his life with his beloved Norm, a Shepherd/Lab mix, for 14 years, each helping the other through countless struggles and adversities. Bill bid farewell to his dear friend last month, and wrote this touching post in dedication to Norm and their “14 year companionship of love.”


By Bill C.

I recently had to put my best friend and companion Norm down; he was 14 yrs old and I guess a misfit from the start.  A person bred a Black Lab to sell the puppies. When they were born, the litter had 11 pups, but 2 were not Lab. They looked like German Shepherds. The neighbor beside these people had a pedigree German Shepherd. 

The humans decided the 2 Shepherds were “not sellable” and did nothing to care for them: no shots, no worming, and even moved the 2 “misfits” from the mama’s nipples till all the sellable pups were full.  I rescued Norm and 4 days after I got him he developed maternal Parvo because the humans removing him from the breast milk stopped him for getting protection from his mother.  

I was faced with a decision. Because of life’s circumstances, I was very poor at that point and could not immediately pay a large bill. The vet said he would accept $10 a month because I was such a good customer for 30 years and he knew I would pay the bill.  After a week in the hospital my little buddy came home very sick, but alive and on the road to recovery.  That started a 14-year-companionship of love. 

Over the next few years I was given a diagnosis for a condition that has no cure. I was going to loose the use of my hands, arms and legs. I would end up as I am today, in braces with artificial joints and bones.  Before this happened, Norm was trained as an assistance/service dog by trainers from K-9 Cops, Military and myself. He was a quick learner. 

Norm was so good at what he did that when I started having deep muscle breakdown from my illness, Norm was trained to sniff out the area before it became a serious problem. I have had 9 surgeries on my legs or feet totally because a dog sniffed, sat and alerted something was wrong.  The first time the orthopedic surgeon said he was very uncomfortable doing deep muscle surgery based on a dog’s opinion, but with my instance, he did the first exploratory surgery and Norm was right.  

Fact is, Norm was always right. 

For the next 14 years, as I got worse and was often recovering from surgery, Norm was my hands and helper.  He could get the phone, open the door, pick-up bandages and put them in the trash, pick up my medicine bottles, but the most important thing he did was give me life. 

I write this for all to read because we often forget what an animal can do for a human and what a human can do for an animal. I saved Norm from Parvo and he saved me back. 

There are no words to express my grief and loss.   

I think what Norm deserved was life, but what he would want all to know is he had a very good life. He had a job and as much love as any person and dog can share. He had a friend who, when it came down to it, put Norm above all else. 

Remember Norm when you think about getting an animal. You never know what the little sickly rescued pup will turn out to be.  

Give them love and share your life. In the end there will be much pain and sadness, but there is also the story, like Norm’s story, full of richness and life because of a simple act of rescue. 

If you choose, please note this story, just for Norm and all those alone humans and animals whose life can be so changed when they are just put together. 

I Love you Norm, I always will.

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photo credit: Bill C

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12:23AM PST on Feb 11, 2015

A beautiful story. Thank you.

5:17PM PDT on Jun 19, 2013

I understand totally. My mom took in a stray kitten and the poor little thing was pretty sickly in the beginning, mom took her to the vet and took care of her until she was healthy again. Several years later mom learned she had rheumatoid arthritis and went through a very bad time until they got her meds adjusted. All the time mom was in so much pain and couldn't sleep, her buddy was right there, cuddled next to mom in her chair or bed. She gave mom a lot of comfort in those horrible days. I think she paid mom back for the love and care given to her. Mom said when she took her in that she wouldn't live to an old age since she was in such poor health. On that, she was very wrong. She lived to 18 and until the last month she still ran and jumped and played like she did as a kitten, she just did it once a day instead of three times.

1:30AM PDT on May 7, 2013

Lovely, thanks.

3:39PM PDT on May 6, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

10:31AM PST on Feb 19, 2013


7:02AM PST on Feb 19, 2013

Somehow dogs are grateful and KNOW that they are being given a chance so rescuing a homeless dog, stray or even a scared dog that is unwanted doesnt mean heisnt a good dog. Thanks for giving this dog a chance. Hope this story inspiresothersto do the same thing too.

9:59PM PST on Feb 14, 2013

Bill,, Norm was your absolute live-saving love of your life. May he always live on in your memories as do some of my babies that have gone over the rainbow bridge. I do hope that in your honor of Norm that you will rescue or get another companion for the rest of your life - not as a replacement of your beloved Norm but giving another a chance to bond with you and be saved. I am so sorry for your loss - I know how difficult a decision it is to let someone of your best circle of friends go, and miss them forever.

7:39PM PST on Feb 12, 2013

Beautiful. Shows how love, caring and compassion goes both ways.

7:01PM PST on Feb 12, 2013

Amazing and heartwarming story. Thanks for saving him. It still amazes me today that people do not realize how valuable and precious animals are in our life. That's why I like animals more than some people.

8:52PM PST on Feb 7, 2013

I'm so sorry for your loss Bill... It's a shame that so many people still have no idea wht having a dog means... Thank you for sharing your love for Norman with us.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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