MILTON — Service dogs are not always formally trained. They just do what pets do naturally, but seem to provide special comfort at the time it is needed most. Such was the case after Rebecca Rosenberger, now 19, underwent horrific treatment by peers at a local high school.
It included name calling, insults, death threats, conflict with irresponsible boys and finally an assault with injury by a female student two years her junior.
It was on the same day of the Boston Marathon bombing.
“My head was hit into the locker...and I was on the ground, and she hit me in the head, and was ripping out my hair. It was crazy,” Rosenberger recalled. “It took like a really long time before somebody broke it up.”
Charges were pursued; and while justice was slow and not always satisfying, restitution eventually came.
But physical, mental and emotional health remained elusive. Rosenberger had suffered a concussion, bleeding on the brain, cuts and a variety of welts. Complicating things further was the need to maintain her schoolwork at a time when college entry tests loomed. At school, Rosenberger was escorted to class.
Symptoms of what turned out to be post-concussion syndrome lingered before a doctor finally figured it out and prescribed the thorough rest Rosenberger needed.
Through it all, Honey, a protective chow and Australian shepherd mix with positive energy and a sweet smile was there for her, and Rosenberger started to write about it.
“The best thing about Honey was that she did not ask me any questions,” Rosenberger wrote. “Everyone was asking questions. Hard questions. I had to explain what happen again and again. I was constantly asked if I was feeling better, if (my assailant) was bothering me, if I had slept and so on.”
Rosenberger said Honey made her feel safe when she would walk with her, afraid of running into her assailant.
Rosenberger’s detailed account of life with Honey included a moment where her beloved companion could have developed a blockage from eating a bone fragment; but the danger passed and served as the inspiration for sharing their story.
Today through the help of her mom and Honey, Rosenberger is freer than ever from the damage that peaked nearly three years ago, and is collecting similar stories of when ordinary pets are pressed into special service for an as yet untitled writing project.
Though the form of the project also has yet to be determined, interested persons may email email@example.com for more information.
Staff Writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.