This is a story about a woman named Florence and her Guide Dog Tango, related by Florence's granddaughter, Molly.
I thought you might want to know that my Grandmother, Florence Bookhultz, passed away on June 15. She lived a full, long and happy life. Those who knew her best would say that she reached 91 years because she had a purpose — and that purpose was a velvet eared, yellow lab named Tango.
Florence was both emotionally and physically better because Tango was part of her life. Tango gave her a reason to walk, to talk to people, and to be proud of all she was doing. And, I thank the Guide Dogs for the Blind in Oregon for making it all possible.
Florence never stopped talking about Tango, even after Tango retired to Illinois to live with us. She never, even during the last week of her life, forgot her most faithful and trusted companion.
She loved to hear stories about Tango's new life in Illinois, as it proved to be different from the one she had Willamette View. Tango traded in Florence's retirement friends for four little girls who relished in sleep-overs — where Tango got to play dress up. Patient, quiet Tango never complained.
A year ago, my daughter McKenna (Florence's great-granddaughter) and Tango were the main event at the elementary school talent show. Tango's talent — "jumping for joy, army crawling and finding McKenna in a crowd" — were her new tricks (with a little help from doggie treats.) The crowning moment was after they took a bow; McKenna headed off stage, but Tango didn't follow. She looked at the audience, paused a moment and sat down. She looked down at the tie fastened securely to her collar, slowly tilted her head back just a little bit, and then she seemed to smile to the crowd of more than 400. Tango earned what must have been her first and last standing ovation — to which she simply laid down. She had no intention of leaving the stage. Tango brought the house down. I will forever wish that I had it on video, as I can't justly describe the moment. I recall thinking that it would have qualified her for the retired Guide Dog Hall of Fame — if there was such a place. Florence was proud.
Something changed with Tango on June 15; it was as if she knew Florence was gone. And a little bit of life left Tango, too. While more than four years had passed since they'd seen each other, Tango seemed to sense the significance of that June day. Each day after that got a bit more difficult for Tango.
I suppose you could say that it was all in my head, but the bond between these two had a strength that neither distance nor time would separate.
Today was Tango's last day. And, at this moment, I think of them together again — Florence is gently, slowly, stroking Tango's soft ears.
October 14, our family will spread the ashes of both Florence and Tango at Cannon Beach, near Haystack Rock.
Thank you, sincerely, for all that you've done for my family — for Tango and for Florence. And while it may have been a few years since you've seen either of them, you played an intricate and important part in all of our lives. You brought them together.