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Tag Archive | "legally blind"

Pastor’s leader dog passes away


Pastor Darryl Miller and his leader dog, Rowdy.

Pastor Darryl Miller and his leader dog, Rowdy.

By Judy Reed

In early January, we did a story about Pastor Darryl Miller and his leader dog, Rowdy. Miller, who is legally blind, is pastor at both South Ensley United Methodist Church and Sand Lake United Methodist. Rowdy, an 11-year-old black lab who was Miller’s faithful companion and seeing eye dog, needed surgery to fix a fistula—a hole in the roof of his mouth—and the Sand Lake United Methodist women was holding a fundraising event on January 14 to help pay the mounting medical bills. He had already undergone five surgeries, but the hole had not healed due to an infection in his jawbone. Once they discovered it, he was put on antibiotics, and they hoped the next surgery would help the dog to finally heal.

Unfortunately, Rowdy did not survive the surgery, and died on January 30.

“Rowdy had been on heavy duty antibiotics for nearly three months trying to get the infection which had prevented the previous surgeries from being successful under control,” explained Miller. “During the last week before the surgery he had a hard time trying to eat and he got weak. He did not make it through the surgery, and it was probably a blessing, as we discovered that the infection had spread into the skull around his left eye socket.”

Rowdy’s death has been hard on Miller. “Even three weeks later I find myself reaching down beside my chair both at home and at the churches to pet him,” he said. “We were together the last nine years and only were separated for about ten days.”

But he is not the only one who misses him. “It has been truly amazing to see how many lives he touched,” remarked Miller. “From young people who knew him from district youth group eight or nine years ago, to the newest members of our churches. We all miss him a lot.”

The Post asked Miller what his plans for the future were. Since he had relied on Rowdy to help get him where he needed to go, would he get another dog? “At first I didn’t plan to get another dog. It was very hard watching such a close friend struggle for the past eight months,” he explained. “But after a couple weeks, I realized just how much I depended on him and have decided to begin the process to get another leader dog.”

Rowdy was trained at the Leader dog school in Rochester, Michigan—a school founded by the Lions Club, and that’s where Miller will apply for another dog. There is no charge for the guide dog.

Miller is grateful to all those who have supported him during this time. “Thank you so much for all your prayers and donations for my Leader Dog Rowdy. My family and I along with our church families want to thank you for your love and help,” he said.

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Fundraiser to help pastor’s leader dog


Pastor Darryl Miller with his leader dog, Rowdy.

Pastor Darryl Miller with his leader dog, Rowdy.

January 14 at Sand Lake United Methodist Church

by Judy Reed

When Darryl Miller decided to become a pastor 10 years ago, he knew it wouldn’t be an easy road to navigate. Being legally blind, he would need help from his family—including wife Shari, and daughters Heather and Kelli—and his congregation. But one of the most important helpers and companions to Darryl has been his leader dog, Rowdy, an 11-year-old beautiful black lab. And now Rowdy is facing his own health issues.

Rowdy has been helping Miller gets where he needs to go since 2007, which includes pastoring both Sand Lake United Methodist and South Ensley United Methodist Churches. “He’s been with me from the beginning. Rowdy’s been to seminary and through all of my pastoral training. He’s older now, and we are trying to retire him but he just won’t go,” said Miller with a chuckle.

“If I put my shoes on in my office, he’d hear it even though he’s on the couch in the other part of the house, and he would be there waiting to go out the door. He just wants to go. He still does his job.”

Rowdy has been through several surgeries to fix a fistula—a hole in the roof of his mouth that opens into his nose. Miller said the hole is about the size of a quarter, making it hard for the dog to eat and drink well.

According to PetMD, an oronasal fistula can be caused by injury, infection or disease. “It’s not terribly uncommon for a dog to get a hole in his mouth by running outside and running into a stick,” explained Miller. “But we don’t know how it happened. He did have an abscessed tooth, and we don’t know if that caused it or if it caused the abscessed tooth.”

Rowdy has undergone five surgeries to fix the problem, but every one has failed. And the costs keep piling up. “We recently found out the jawbone was infected as well, and that’s why the surgeries failed,” explained Miller. He said Rowdy was put on a 10-week course of heavy-duty antibiotics to clear it up. The veterinarian—Dr. Moore, in Spring Lake—will then attempt to repair the fistula again.

The Sand Lake United Methodist Women’s group would like to help Pastor Miller by doing some fundraising for Rowdy’s surgery. They will be holding a hot dog and chili lunch at Sand Lake United Methodist Church, 65 West Street, Sand Lake, on Saturday, January 14, at from 11-3.

For those who would like to donate, but cannot attend, you can make out a check to the Sand Lake UMC Women and put “Rowdy” in the memo line. Mail it to Sand Lake United Methodist Church, PO 97, Sand Lake, MI 49343.

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