By Chris Stone
It had been seven weeks since Phoebe last saw her friend. Sunday afternoon was a reunion of sorts.
Michele Fox led Phoebe, her 3-year-old English Labrador retriever, to her father’s freshly marked grave after a Memorial Day service at Miramar National Cemetery.
The dog walked up to the gravestone and lay down.
It was important for the family.
“This is the first time that she has been here since he passed (in April),” Fox said. “My dad became a recipient of her love. When we visited my dad, (George Lussier) they had a special bond, where she would lick him.”
Said Beverly Lussier, Michele’s mother: “They had such a bond. Every time she would go, she would jump on his bed and lick him and he would laugh.”
Lussier, who served in the Coast Guard during the Vietnam War, suffered from ALS for 23 years until he died in April.
His headstone was placed May 23 and the grass sod was also laid, so the family saw the marker for the first time Sunday, when they attended their first Memorial Day ceremony.
“On the day he was passing away, [Phoebe] just sat on the bed and watched him,” Lussier said.
Fox added: “When father died, they asked if he was a veteran, so they put an American flag over him. And we firmly believe that Phoebe wanted to give him a last lick. It was amazing.”
Lussier showed a photo of the dog putting its paws on the coffin and trying to put her muzzle under the flag.
The dog is a service animal for Fox’s son, Nicholas.
Fox spoke of the Memorial Day service: “I think it helps us with the healing process just to be among a group of individuals who are going through what we have gone through.
She said she liked when Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Martin thanked nonmilitary people for attending.
“I thought that it was very special that we all come together,” she said, “no matter if we are in the service or not.”
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