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From the moment I first saw the little black puppy in a litter of ten, I knew he was special. When he ran into my arms, it was love at first sight. As a puppy he was a challenge. No crate could hold him. He would tear the doors right off the hinges resulting in a characteristic crooked tooth. At the age of two he was playing with my brother-in-law in the dining room. Suddenly he backed up into a mirrored china closet severely cutting the artery and ligaments in his leg. Bleeding badly, we got him to the vet. He did recover but had a persistent limp and was unable to jump. I thought this was the end of his career in the AKC obedience ring. He still needed something to do. So knowing his love of children and people of all ages, I trained him and had him tested for therapy work. He was a natural. In his many years of therapy work he visited Caring Hospice, Special Equestrians, the Marie Katzenback School for the deaf, The Variety Club Summer Camp and quite a few other places. Thunder was a very impressive dog weighing 107 pounds yet he was one of the calmest and gentlest dogs I have ever seen. Not only did he love visiting with the students and residents but he also enjoyed all the other dogs, especially the little ones, in his therapy dog group. He even stood still like a bridge while the little dogs ran under him. Anyone who saw this trick was truly amazed.

A few years ago Thunder even made it to the “big screen”. He appeared in an edition of Court TV which required several days of shooting scenes running through fields, licking the face of one of the actors and spending lots of time in the back seat of a small car (most cars were small to Thunder!). The director was amazed at the demeanor of this wonderful dog. He did all the necessary retakes and never seemed to tire. He was awesome.

Thunder did finally compete in the Obedience ring earning an AKC CD, and a CDSP CDX-H. In his later years he competed in the AKC Obedience Veterans class with one of his senior friends, a little beagle named Falcon. He truly seemed to get satisfaction from showing the crowd that this big, intelligent, happy guy still had IT.

Thunder’s greatest achievements came when the sport of APDT Rally O came along. APDT allows modifications for dogs with disabilities so Thunder never had to jump more than 4 inches. He earned his first APDT Rally O title in three straight shows and I was so proud of him. He went on to have an extremely successful career in the APDT Rally O ring, earning the highest title in that venue, the ARCHEX (APDT Rally Champion Extraordinaire). When APDT developed the Veteran Class title, Thunder was ready and took this class with ease. Not only did he earn the Veteran title but he went on to qualify in five shows and earn the Veteran Champion Title.

Up until a few weeks before his death he was still happily taking part in APDT Rally O trials and doing his favorite job – baby sitting all the little dogs. He would patiently lay in the middle of an X-pen with several little dogs, like his friends Milo, CJ, Morgan, Nicky, and Pearly climbing all around and over him. He was especially gentle with his two handicapped pals, Mr. T (a three legged Bichon) and Merlin (a little beagle with a form of dwarfism). Both of these guys can be a bit too friendly, but Thunder never minded. In fact, heaven help the unfamiliar dog who looked strangely at one of his friends. He would certainly protect any of his pals.

On April 20th, 2010, Thunder made the trip to the Rainbow Bridge. He has left a huge void in my life and the lives of all who knew him. He will be missed but has left us with a wealth of wonderful memories which I will cherish forever.