dog listening with big ear


From the Editor,
Fall 2017


The best part about working here at the Wagazine is hearing stories of beloved pets from readers. Often we receive beautiful narratives that we publish but
must edit to fit in to our pages.

In the summer issue, we printed a photo in our Pets on Parade page. Sent in by Jan Haycraft of Owatonna, it was the epitome of summer: Penny,
a Golden Retriever mix, and Elphie, a Golden Retriever, swimming in the Straight River.

Then we received a letter to the editor from a Washington D.C. reader, Kathy Megyeri.

The connection between these two women, thanks to Penny the Golden Retriever mix, is what made the story interesting. You can read it in our Happy Tails article on p. 30. But here is the prequel, in the words of Kathy Megyeri:

When Janice Haycraaft retired, she decided she would become a volunteer. It was 9/11/2001 that set a new direction for her, but it was Penny, her Golden Retriever mix, that directed her volunteer efforts when Penny became certified as a therapy dog. 

Jan’s dad was a Pearl Harbor survivor. Jan wanted her volunteer efforts to bring comfort to underserved populations, and Jan and Penny make twice-weekly visits to many elderly people in care centers or assisted living facilities, where many of the elderly men now reside who formerly served in WWII. 

It is not uncommon to see framed pictures of handsome young men in uniform taken during the war years and posted in their rooms. These men, although advanced in years, are proud Americans who fought to protect our freedoms. 

On one visit in 2010, Jan and Penny heard the sound of a trumpet coming from the patio at Cedarview Care Center in Owatonna, where Sid, 93, was blowing taps like he did for so many soldiers over the years who were buried at Ft. Snelling in St. Paul. 

Even on that first visit, Penny and Sid formed a special bond. Trainer Jan knew that Sid had had a Golden Retriever when he was young, and Penny seemed like a re-incarnation both in beauty and in temperament. 

As months passed, Penny would lie next to Sid in his bed while he rested, and that special companionship of secret-sharing and quiet moments intensified over the year as Sid held her muzzle in his hand and spoke of times past. 

In commemoration of their time together, Jan created a memory book for Sid’s daughter, Kathy, that documented in pictures their shared companionship. Jan wrote it in Penny’s voice.

“If Penny could have talked, those were the words she would have used to tell their story because in her face, I could see the love she had for Sid,” said Jan. “I was really the lucky one to witness such love on every visit.”

Sometimes the rest of the story is the best of the story. We thank Jan and Kathy for sharing theirs, and we thank Penny for serving the veterans who served us.

We hope you enjoy the many heartwarming articles in this issue and keep the stories coming our way.