Monday, December 14, 2015

Our Circle Celebrity

The UMW (United Methodist Women) in a church is divided into small groups called Circles.  We meet monthly to study, fellowship, and serve.  My Circle in Florida has about 15 members..... or shall I saw it used to have 15 members.  Our group has welcomed a new member and her name is Honey.  She is our Circle Celebrity!

Let's go back to the beginning. Gail, Honey, and her husband, Art, sat near me in church.  Gail always had her little service dog with her.  Naturally, people were abuzz wondering why she had the dog but no one would ask.  I had chatted with Gail several times.

After a few weeks, I gently and quietly (but boldly) said,  "If I may ask, why do you have Honey?"  Gail responded enthusiastically and that opened the door to a new friendship and a lot of fascinating information.  A simplified version is that Gail has very severe asthma attacks.  Honey can sense when one is coming on before Gail has a clue.  She lets Gail know so she can grab her inhaler.  

I invited Gail to our Circle.  She said she thought people would feel uncomfortable with her bringing Honey.  Our leader discussed it with the group ahead of time and, as I thought, there was no problem. 

It worked out that Gail's first meeting was our Christmas Potluck luncheon at a member's home. Gail introduced herself and Honey and held everyone's full attention.  She told us all about how they discovered that Honey could do this and the red tape she and her doctor went through to get her certified.
We learned that a Service Dog is working and should not be petted, although Gail is very patient with people who don't know that and want to pet her.  When in public, Honey wears the Service Dog vest and ID tags.  There have been a few incidents in restaurants that were cleared up because Gail always carries her paperwork. 
The one time Honey's attire varies is Sunday mornings and we are always eager to see what "Sunday dress" she will be wearing that day.  
 Art, Gail, and Honey Whitmarsh 
Honey's Easter dress
One of our Circle members proudly informed the Women's Executive Board that we are the first Circle to have a dog as a member..... our very own Circle Celebrity! 

p.s.  Honey has never made a peep in church in the two years I've known her.  But I saw her "non-working" side when I went to Gail's house.  She is barking and chasing the cat like any normal, frisky little dog!   

Honey is a poodle but Gail doesn't have her groomed with the traditional cut.

1 comment:

Beth said...

What breed of dog is Honey? I can't tell from the photos. Having worked with the visually impaired, I've seen firsthand the range of commands guide dogs can follow. I knew some dogs could predict seizures, but had never heard of one that could predict asthma attacks before now. I find the many ways dogs can help humans fascinating!