Faith the fire dog receives hero’s send-off 

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published September 4, 2018

 Faith, the Troy Fire Department fire dog, a border collie, spends time near the water after she retired in 2013.

Faith, the Troy Fire Department fire dog, a border collie, spends time near the water after she retired in 2013.

Photo provided by retired Troy Fire Department Lt. Tonya Perry

 Troy Fire Department Lt. Tonya Perry and Faith the fire dog take a break.

Troy Fire Department Lt. Tonya Perry and Faith the fire dog take a break.

Photo provided by retired Troy Fire Department Lt. Tonya Perry

TROY — She showed thousands of children how to crawl out of a smoke-filled room, on her belly, close to the floor. 

She demonstrated how to touch a door to see if it was hot. 

She could find matches on command and could show kids how to go to a designated meeting spot. 

Faith the fire dog, a border collie who retired from her community service in 2013, when she was diagnosed with Addison’s disease and needed to avoid stress, passed away in February 2015 after her kidneys failed at age 15. 

She was interred Sept. 1 at the Michigan War Dog Memorial in South Lyon. 

Faith and her handler and owner, retired Troy Fire Department Lt. Tonya Perry, had appeared at preschools, churches, businesses and a number of community events in Troy. Faith first appeared in public when she was 9 months old. 

Perry’s aunt and uncle gave Faith to her as a gift. Faith attended lots of obedience classes and earned her American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen certification. 

“Faith loved working with special-needs kids and adults,” said Perry, who retired a couple of months ago from the Troy Fire Department after 34 years. “She (Faith) sought out special-needs kids and adults.” 

Faith’s specialty during her 20-minute show was demonstrating the stop, drop and roll technique, Perry said. 

Michigan War Dog Memorial President Phil Weitlauf said the memorial was transformed in 2010 from an abandoned pet cemetery into a burial site that caters to military and police dogs. 

Weitlauf, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War era, said the memorial runs solely on donations, and funeral services are at no cost to the dogs’ families. 

Weitlauf said that the pet cemetery was founded in 1936 and was abandoned in the 1980s. “There was a lot of overgrowth,” he said. 

Weitlauf, some military buddies and other K-9 supporters worked to restore it. 

“We owe them (the dogs) a final resting place with honor,” he said. 

“The ultimate goal was a park setting. It is now,” he said.

The first pet service was held in 2014. Faith’s was the 20th. 

The full ceremonial services feature an honor guard, an invocation read by an officer, the playing of taps and “Amazing Grace,” and a K-9 salute in which eight German shepherds form a semicircle and howl on command for 30 seconds. 

“We want to make sure they are totally honored for their service and sacrifice,” Weitlauf said. 

For more information on the Michigan War Dog Memorial, go to mwdm.org. 

Staff Writer Kayla Dimick contributed to this report.