Sunday, May 29, 2011

Newspaper Tribute to Erin

The following is a feature story on Erin that ran in the Savannah Morning News one month after her passing. The article was reprinted a few weeks later so I was doubly thrilled as it's very unusual for an story to be printed twice by the same publication. Erin's story was cast wide via the internet and Bark Magazine contacted me about penning an extended version of her tale, the finished work was featured in their digital magazine and can be found online. This was written with much sorrow and pain but these words are the beginning of my path to healing.


Remembering the charmed life of Erin, the Springer spaniel


Erin entered a man's life, then conquered Savannah ... and the world

Posted: September 15, 2010  

David Michael Smith's Springer Spaniel, Erin.

David Michael Smith didn't know much about raising a puppy, but he knew he was ready to learn. He wanted to raise a true companion, and to give the pup all the experiences the world had to offer. He wanted a dog who could go everywhere he would go, and he knew that was going to take some work.
But first he had to find just the right dog.

When he went to look at a litter of Springer spaniel puppies, Erin cried out to him. All of the puppies were yelping and yearning for his attention, but he kept noticing in particular one little bundle of liver and white fur. He took her home that day, and what a match it proved to be.

The first three years of Erin's life was typical of any dog's life, playing fetch, wrestling with canine pals, lounging in the sun and, of course, chasing squirrels. What wasn't quite typical, however, was Erin's extraordinarily calm center.

David was offered a job in Germany and found a way to bring Erin along. For 18 months David took Erin everywhere he went, and she sniffed her way across a dozen countries. She took an Amsterdam canal boat tour, frolicked in the Swiss Alps, walked in the footsteps of Alexander the Great in Pella, Greece, strolled the Heidelberg Christmas market, and wandered the World War I battlefields of Verdun, France.

When David's job ended, so did Erin's adventures in Western Europe. But that turned out to be just fine, because the best was yet to come.

Erin was 5 years old when David realized she would be a wonderful therapy dog. Obedient and possessed of an extraordinarily even temperament, friendly demeanor and a loving, comforting nature, She had all the traits of a successful service animal,  the certification tests posed little challenge and Erin's stint as a therapy dog was under way.

Hospice work was Erin's first job. She visited the terminally ill, adults and children alike.

Erin had an uncanny ability to disarm most people who encountered her. Gazing into her soulful, gentle eyes, even people who might not be that comfortable with dogs fell in love.

Among those she converted included the congregation of a major Savannah church, who permitted Erin to join the congregation for the morning service. She laid on the floor beside David's feet, and often took a nap. The folks who went to church with Erin didn't mind.

Erin's church duties expanded; she became a door greeter, and she even had a short stint working with the children's worship program.

David was approached with the idea of letting her appear on stage in a production of "The Miracle Worker." The drama department heard about Erin through the grapevine, contacted David and arranged an audition. She won the role of "Belle," the Keller family dog.

After each performance, when the cast lined up to greet the audience, Erin was right there alongside her co-stars. Hundreds of people filed by to pet her or pay a compliment.

On Aug. 16, David lost his companion Erin, who passed away from complications of diabetes. His friends and family gathered around him, and his Facebook page was covered with wishes for comfort.

David is still struggling to come to terms with Erin being gone, but he says, "I'm so proud of Erin's achievements - world traveler, therapy dog, church attendee and stage performer - but I take the most pride in what kind of dog she was inside. It's hard to imagine a living creature with more affection, loyalty, and passion for life than Erin."


  1. The world was blessed by Erin's presence. We are blessed just reading about her. What a beautiful and extraordinary soul!


  2. Orea thanks for saying so!! I certainly feel blessed by her friendship!! Take care!!

  3. Great article. Thanks for sharing it, David!

  4. Who could help but be deeply touched by Erin's story? Thanks for sharing, David.

  5. Thanks for visiting and commenting!! Take care, David!!!

  6. Awwwwww, don't you wish more *people* were like Erin? That was so touching!

  7. More tears over my coffee. I constantly feel the essense of the two of you together..soul mates. You truly are. Before I read this post, I was thinking about you and Erin and wondered how she came to you and if you did an article of here passing. Amazing..that is what this post was about. Erin is still doing her magic. Spreading her love through your words. Her Hospice work makes sense..there is a feeling of " Old Soul" about her. There are " Angels' that walk this earth and Erin was one of them. I am not a religious person, but I do believe that some souls come to be the helping hands of others. Erin truly is one of those. You are soul mates David, not everyone gets to have that. Heartfelt.....

  8. David, you didn’t choose Erin; she chose you.
    Wow, I never knew she was a therapy dog and worked with Hospice. Now, more than ever, I’m convinced that she was an angel sent straight from heaven. Just put here on this earth to minister love and joy to all who crossed her path.

    Sometime soon, I hope you’ll do a series of posts (if you haven’t already done so) on Erin’s many roles in the church.

    In my heart, I know that there needs to be a series of children’s books based on her rich life. The whole world needs to know that she was here, and the impact she made on everyone.

  9. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. It's much appreciated!!

    @Laura I certainly wish more folks were like Erin, the world would be a much better place.

    @Raven The magic of Erin is still ongoing and it seems that interest in her keeps getting stronger. We were soulmates for sure and people that knew her referred to her as an "old gentle soul". She was a wise girl and kept me safe for a dozen years

    @Debra I believe it was fate that brought us together. There is not a single person who has a bad thing to say about Erin, she came to touch hearts and she did that for sure. Would love to get my book ideas moving along, if you hve any connections or suggestions please let me know. Thanks!!

  10. Our dogs are a reflection of who we truly are. Just as an unruly, misbehaved child will expose lax parenting, so will a dog with a poor temperament expose an irresponsible dog owner. For all that she came into the world with her kind, angelic nature, Erin mirrored back to the world aspects of her companion's own compassion and tenderness. Tales of Erin's goodness reveal not only her stellar character, hard work, and devotion, but that of her owner as well. A dear soul was reflected through Erin's service to others. David would never boast, indeed would more than likely shirk from such attention, and would dislike the thought he could take credit for any of Erin's goodness. Humble as he is though, the truth is that she was his true companion and mirror to the world. I hope he will continue to share his compassion and wonder with the world, if only in Erin's memory.

  11. David: What a lovely tribute to Erin this blog is. I have lost several beloved pets over the years and still think of them lovingly and how wonderful they all were.

    I have read several of your early entries as well as your latest ones and what adventures you two have had! Thank you for sharing this with us...anyone who has loved an animal as a friend will understand and admire what the two of you meant to each other.
    @jonesbabie on Twitter

  12. Reading about Erin, I just realized that I didnt know much about her except that she was someone very special to you David. But she was so much more than that. She touched so many people. What an amazing dog she must have been. I can understand your loss more better now. God bless you and Erin.

  13. @Holli You're very insightful and I value your comments, thanks for stopping by!! Erin was a byproduct of my love and friendship but to her I must give all the credit.

    @Cathi Thanks for dicovering my blog and leaving a comment, it's much appreciated. Only a true animal lover with understand the pain of losing a beloved friend. Sorry for your losses!!

    @Rimly Erin was first and foremost by beloved friend but so much more to many others. She was a special girl and will be missed for sure. Thanks for visiting!!!

  14. David - I've loved reading your posts for a while now. Of course I knew Erin was your Fur Angel but I'd never read specifically about her passing. This one brought tears of such sadness at your loss. She is one special girl. Whatever your beliefs I do believe she is waiting for you.

    I think a children's book or series would be wonderful. Perhaps Pandora at would be able to direct you. She has a blog and an ebook. She works through a company that does ebooks.

    Hope it works out!

  15. David, thanks for coming by and posting so a touching comment on my last post.

    Each time I visit your blog I see what a blessing Erin was not only to you but to those lives she touched daily. Thanks for sharing with us!



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