Aug. 28 will have a feel of melancholy for the St. Benedict’s Health Center family now that their service dog, Grizzly, has passed away. He first came to St. Benedict's in 2010, at roughly age 3. He was a rescue from Killdeer that Shelley Lenz, of State Ave Veterinary Clinic, found.
Right around that same time, St. Benedict's director of activity programming, Dani Kuhn, was looking for a large dog that would be great company for their residents and staff members. Lenz knew the perfect dog.
“[Lenz] found him for us, even though she immediately fell in love with him because he's not hard to fall in love with,” Kuhn said. “But she knew that he was destined to be involved in more, that he needed more attention and to be in a good environment that would give him all the love in the world that wanted.”
Grizzly was “wise beyond his years,” wisdom that he may have gained while he was out on his own as a young pup. When he first came to live at St. Benedict's, he made a dashing jump over the fence and went on a journey that left people shell-shocked for the better part of a month in winter.
The St. Benedict’s staff searched for hours with no luck. One of the former Dickinson Press staff who can be categorized as one of "the greats”, Linda Sailer, reported on Grizzly's disappearance and brought in the community to expand the search. Two good Samaritans recognized him and returned him to St. Benedict's after nearly 20 days of wandering. He received a large welcoming committee consisting of staff, residents and their family members.
“There was a lot of community activity to find him,” said Jon Frantsvog, St. Benedict CEO. “Grizzly was front page news.”
Ever since, Grizzly chose a well-mannered lifestyle, following staff members making rounds, sitting with residents and lifting spirits.
“He was gorgeous, sweet,smart, energetic and all the things you would want in a dog,” Kuhn said.
Not long before his passing, Grizzly was diagnosed with cancer. The only real treatment was to keep him comfortable.
On a sunny, late August morning, Grizzly let himself outside around 6 a.m. and found a place of comfort where he laid his head and closed his soft brown eyes for a final time beneath a lilac bush. Staff on call found him around 7 a.m.
The weeks before were ones of harmony for Grizzly, spending time outside and on the farm, having a weekend of peace and quiet with Frantsvog and enjoying the taste of a meaty burger.
“We went and got him a burger — the only time we had given him anything other than dog food,” Kuhn said. “It was pretty peaceful. … There is always this struggle to whether or not to put an animal down and whether you are doing a justice for yourself or the animal by keeping him around. He made that decision for us."
Grizzly was well-loved and and was an example of love. He touched countless lives and made a lasting impact in the Dickinson community.