The Life & Death of a Service Dog


Randy Schantz - St. Petersburg, Florida

6/15/01 - 1/7/14

The Life & Death of a Service Dog We got Shane on a whim...we had recently lost a dog and thought we wanted a Cocker Spaniel. But, as fate would have it, we were shopping in the mall and my husband called me into a pet store to show me a dog he fancied! As I wheeled by Shane's cage, I stopped and took one look at this 4 month old black, miniature toy poodle. I asked to hold him, and there was an instant bond. Interestingly enough, my husband had read an article about how small, agility dogs can help individuals in electric wheelchairs! So, Shane was ours! Within the first week, he was potty trained and we knew he was a bright little fellow, who we would start to train to meet my individual needs. Back in 2002, when we got Shane, New York State Law said only professional service dog programs could license Shane. But Federal Law states anyone can train their dog to become certified. So, the training began. We took four classes over the course of the next two years and he finally understood his role which was to make my life easier. He was able to fetch things, push open and close doors, pick things up for me, as well as getting me help, if I couldn't get it myself. I got trapped in my van one day on our Main Street. My electrical system blew a fuse and I was locked into a bolt in the floor, so I sent Shane out to get help. Funny thing is he brought me, quite randomly an electrician! He replaced the fuse for us. I also used to sit on our tractor to mow our lawn. Shane would run ahead of me watching all the time. I ran out of gas one time and he went to find my husband to fill up my tank, since I was stranded. One time, we were in a theater watching a play and the scene was an actor trying to commit suicide with gas, Shane pulled on me to leave because he thought I was in danger! He was much more than a service dog to me. His services extended far beyond his physical duties. Before I got Shane, I was just a woman in the wheelchair, but after I started to take him out, his favorite place was on my lap. People would thus engage me in conversations about Shane. He was my kryptonite when it came to attracting people. I am an extremely social person and he helped me to "feel" normal again! Together, we educated individuals of the benefit of having a service animals. We spoke to school groups, and since he went everywhere with me, people were always asking what he did for me. He wore a service vest that displayed the words, " please don't pet me, I'm working". When people asked me what that meant, I would explain that when they are doing a job, such as computer work, if someone interrupts them, don't they loose their train of thought? Well, the same is true when Shane was working. His focus needed to be on me. He could sense my emotional needs, as well as my physical limitations. He was such a comfort for me in so many ways. He was with me everyday for 11+ years...watching my husband transfer me, sleeping next to me, staying on my lap when we went anywhere. Like an appendage! He was a constant in my life. Unconditional love, like no other! He was also extremely cultured. He went to plays, shows, concerts, festivals, dinners out, traveled everywhere with my husband and me. He even had a European passport. He acclimated to any given situation, whether flying, cruising or car rides. He was an absolute pleasure to have given me so much enlightenment. When I needed to be in the hospital, he came faithfully everyday. He comforted me through sad times and lifted my spirits with his constant devotion... When he wasn't wearing his service vest, he was a playful dog! He loved to play ball or catch a frisbee. He didn't have a mean bone in his disposition. He only brought joy to all who knew him, to people of all ages, races, religions...he knew no barrier. He was Toto in the school production of the Wizard of Oz, my husband was a high school teacher and he was the school's mascot. I am a mental health counselor, and Shane helped my clients to feel comfortable talking about their problems by curling up with them. When my first grandchild came, he would stay in his room and come to get my daughter and me when he woke up. Shane was a Hospice volunteer at our local hospital, bringing comfort and joy to patients who had less than a week to live! He died suddenly on January 7, 2014 by a driver not watching where he was going, and driving by much too fast. Too quickly, our lives were changed forever. This loss has effected me greatly, because I am now just the woman in the wheelchair again. People don't engage me when I am out. My husband and children put an obituary on Facebook and we had over 150 comments about how he was loved by so was a real tribute to this amazing dogs life. He will be missed greatly. Sincerely, Randy Schantz (Shane's Grateful and Constant Friend for Life!) Our family Facebook article: It is with great sadness and deep sorrow that Shane Schantz passed away suddenly yesterday. For those of you who knew Shane, you know what a treasure he was. Enormously loyal and extremely adorable, he was an integral part of our family. Shane led a very full and cultured life. He went everywhere with Randy and me: England, Seattle, NYC, Florida, the Caribbean, Yankee and Buccaneers games, rock concerts, street fairs, musicals, plays, DECA and NYSUT Conferences….and a blacktie dinner at the New York Governor's mansion. Shane was also a hard worker. He was a certified Hospice volunteer and served as Randy's service animal for over 11 years. He was also a bit of a celebrity, playing Toto in a Catskill High School production of Wizard of Oz and serving as the unofficial mascot of the Queen Mary II on our trips to England. We take solace in the wonderful and full life Shane had and the fact that he was loved by so many. Randy & Michael

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