Echo and My Friend Larry

Echo and my Friend Larry

Some years ago I was planting peas on the 5th of July. In Texas July is hot, no damn hot. Several of the bags of peas had broken so I had to transfer the peas into a 5 gallon bucket. I would put on sack on my shoulder and then take the 5 gallon bucket in the other hand and walk about 150 yards up the hill to the area we had plowed for the peas. I normally wear a long sleeve shirt, but on one of the many trips up the hill I got hot.. I took my shirt off and soaked it in the creek and put it on to cool me down. That day in July was about 105 degrees plus no breeze at all in the creek bottom.

I sat down on the bags of seed to cool off. Suddenly I felt a huge fat man sitting on my chest, My left arm had a huge pain in it. My back begin to hurt.. Sweating bullets by now I was hurting in the middle of my chest. My dad and son drove up on the four wheeler and tractor. Dad asked my what was wrong As I explained all of us knew what was happening- heart attack.

My ride on the fender of the tractor with my 80 year old dad driving, while having a heart attack was an adventure that needs to be written about someday. At the house Mom, a nurse for over 40 years, lay me in the floor placed wet towel on me, surrounded me with several fans to cool me down. After several moments Mom saw I was not getting better so She directed Dad and Bryan to take me to the hospital.. There I was admitted and found to be having a total heart attack while in the ER room.

A flight to the big Hospital in Tyler on a helicopter , many hospital people waiting on me to arrive, and being send to ICU is mostly a blur. My biggest fear was about my family, how were they going to take this news.

While waiting on the tests, doctors, and all the other things going on around me I got mad... I could not understand why I had a heart attack. I am the guy that runs, does not smoke, eat very little red meat, takes care of myself, don’t drink and eat healthy. I got so stinking mad I was just mad that me the one guy that takes good care of himself has a heart attack. I was raging inside.. trying hard not to scream..

On my second day in ICU nurses were trying to settle me down as the blood pressure monitor showed my frustration. I knew I was going to be okay but the 'why me' was eating me up.

Enter Echo. I sat on my bed as a greyhound dog came thru the door way. He seemed to know my frustration, placed his head in my lap. I touched him to find him to feel like velvet, so soft so calm, so where did he come from.. The local Therapy pet dogs were visiting that day and Echo came in to see me. I have played and trained dogs all my life but this greyhound did some thing that no one in the hospital or drugs could do. Echo calmed me down. I could not feel sorry for myself any more. Echo did his magic on me. We sat there in the room for a long time just sharing moments Echo never offered any advise or asked any questions..

The doctors placed a stint in my heart after that I was pronounced in good heath. Mom giving me that aspirin, Dad and Bryan getting me to the hospital early kept this situation under control, Plus Echo using his Magic on me.

Years have pasted and I have never forgotten Echo. I had trained dogs before this but Echo opened my heart. I have never forgotten Echo, or the work that Therapy pet does for hospitals

Last week my mom called to tell me about a life long friend of mine who’s life was ending Mom said that " Larry" wanted to meet Star. Larry was in Vietnam was exposed to 'agent orange'. I told Mom that I would be there the next day. I had not seen my friend in some years, but Mom and Dad had told me that he was in bad shape.. On our drive to his home I remember the many good times that we had growing up together, the many football games we played and the great times we had shared, even remembering the many discussions about how our lives were going to be when we 'grew up'.

My friend was sitting in a chair he could not speak, walk or hear. But the moment he saw me tears came into his eyes. He hugged me like we had done many times before. He wrote on his slate, I answered "no I don’t need a beer.” I told him that I had some one that wanted to meet him. Returning to the Truck I told Star that this was a good an longtime friend of mine. She seemed to understand this situation. When Star came into the room my friends pain, and years torment stopped. Star lay her head on his lap, His hand stroked her; the two of them were connected, for a few moments, years were rolled back, and life was good. It was at that moment that I remembered Echo and what he had done for me and how I had felt that day.

Star Larry and I laughed at silly pet tricks, old stories but no words were exchanged, just looks from one to the other. My friend died 10 days later. I cried at his death.

I have taught many dogs in my life, but the dogs that visit hospitals and bring hope, and a few moments of happiness to the patients are very precious animals. What positive roles they play in the healing process.

Thank you Echo for teaching me.

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Positively Expert: Bill McFarlin

Bill and his dog Star are the National Spokesman for the American Brittany Rescue, and were contestants on the CBS reality show "Greatest American Dog." Bill has been training dogs for over 20 years, and enjoys teaching his dogs sports like agility, herding, and frisbee. He and his wife are active volunteers in the dog rescue community.


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13 thoughts on “Echo and My Friend Larry

  1. Teddie & my dog/friend, Simon

    Thank you for sharing Echo's story. Simon is also a Therapet & he visits patients at the hospitals, and we don't always hear stories like yours that make our volunteer work rewarding!! Again thank you for sharing Echo's story with us.

  2. Susen Santoro

    I know Echo and also am a member of Therapet with 2 therapy dogs. It's amazing to see a patient respond to the touch of our dogs, comatose patients coming to life, etc. Beautiful story!

  3. denise

    I am so absolutely moved to tears by this article. This special Greyhound was mine!! I remember meeting Bill and have since seen Bill and Star around at events and said hello. Echo passed away after having a form of leukemia for 3 years. She was under a treatment protocol that allowed her to feel good most of the time and she continued to visit patients during most of that time. Thank you to Bill for remembering my sweet special girl and how she made you feel with her gentle nature when you needed it the most.

  4. Amy Pate

    This is such a wonderful story! I also have a Therapet dog named Roscoe. It's so nice to hear that they do make a difference. It takes alot of time and money to train for this program and its nice to know that it's appreciated. Thanks Again!

  5. Joyce

    Echo crossed the bridge before I came into the Greyhound World. I watch her helping others even to this day.

    It was heaven sent at that time and place for thiis Greyhound to reach you..Angels come in many forms.

    Echo lives on through her family.. Being the first Greyhound...Denise now loves and cares for the Greyhound Cause with all of her heart. She leads the Tyler Rescue Group, and not only helps to actually find those that are lost, but ensures as many as possible get their forever homes.
    Thank you Echo...

  6. Julie

    Bill,
    Thank you for sharing your precious moments. You told me years ago how the therapy dogs had touched you, but I had no idea of the depth. Your story is a testament to the healing power of our Therapets!
    Thanks for touching my heart today and reminding me once again how the impact of what we do lives on forever!!

  7. Jennifer

    Bill,
    Thank you so much for sharing this story. I have been working with my dog for a while now, and our goal is for her to become a Therapet. Your story of describing the magic effect that Echo had on you, as well as that of Star for Larry, reminds me of what my father told me when I was a little girl. Whenever one of us kids was sick, we were told that if our dog Brownie would lay on the bed with us, that she has special "doggie magic" that would make us feel better. I grew up believing in that special magic, and told the same thing to my children when they were young. Isn't it wonderful how dogs just seem to know what we need? Thank you for touching my heart with your story today!

  8. Jennifer Gold

    Bill,

    I have read this story twice now. The second time, I read it to my husband and we both cried. Shoot, I could barely read to the end without breaking! It is a lovely and heartwarming story. Thank you.

    Jennifer (and Milt)

  9. Sherry Guinn

    I met Echo soon after they had found that she was ill. She was wonderful to touch and had an amazing connection with everyone she met. Echo taught me as well.

    It is always so amazing when my George very simply walks into a hospital room and gently lays his head in a patients lap and you see the pain ease for a period of time.

    It has been a priviledge to work with Therapet and touch lives with our animals.

    Thanks Bill for reminding us about Echo.

  10. Barbara

    What a great story and a wonderful tribute to Echo and to the power animals have to heal. I am very blessed to have worked along side Echo and Denise. Thank you for sharing your story.

  11. Kathy Peters

    This is such a touching story. It brought tears to my eyes. My father was waiting to get his chemotherapy three months ago when a lady came in with her therapy dogs. He told me how much better it made him feel and helped take his mind off of what was going on at the time. Thanks to all of the people and animals involved in making a difference in peoples lives.

  12. Debbie Dibble

    Dogs are often the best medicine. It was true for me when my family moved from place to place with my dog often being my only friend.
    It was also true for my mother when she attempted suicide and refused to talk to me about it. I gave her a little rescue dog that I had adopted a few year before. On the way to visit Mom, I explained to BC (Beach Comber) that I needed him to be a friend to my mom. I told my mother that I didn't care if she kept him 2 days or 2 weeks or 2 years or forever, he always had a home with me, but if she needed someone to talk to who would listen and not judge, BC would be there for her. At first she refused him but when I called him to load in the pick up he came and started to jump in whirled around in mid-air and went back and sat by mom. I said "He's talking to you mom are you going to listen?" She never gave him back and her attitude toward life completely changed.
    The hair stands up on the back of my neck and tears roll freely every time I remember that day so many years ago. Thanks to BC I got my mom back and I'm forever grateful.

  13. Skye

    Angels come in many forms, but always at the right time. Thank you for sharing
    the story of these Angels with us.

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