Nancy first met Phil in 2005 at a show for DedEven, her son-in-law’s hard rock cover band. She noticed right away that Phil wasn’t your average heavy metal music lover. True, his passion for head banging went beyond a few ’80s standards, and he even had his own band. But he also used a motorized wheelchair and crutches, keeping his German Shepherd service dog, Fuhren, with him at all times. (In German, fuhren means “to lead.”)
Fuhren wasn’t just a companion. Because Phil had cerebral palsy, Fuhren was trained to notice the tell-tale signs of an oncoming seizure, as well as to block Phil’s fall so that he wouldn’t hit his head. Plus, he could do countless other tasks for Phil, such as retrieving items, opening doors, and protecting Phil from predatory people.
As Nancy got to know Phil, she learned they had a lot in common. They bonded over how they both had been adopted and had grown up in Stow, Ohio. She also discovered over time just how critical Fuhren was to Phil’s quality of life and independence.
And Then Tragedy Struck
In early November 2017, Phil made a tearful call to Nancy: Fuhren had succumbed to cancer. Nancy was heart stricken that Phil had lost such a beloved, vital companion. Even worse, Phil didn’t have any idea how to contact the original breeder. Fuhren was truly special and Phil needed a new trained service dog from that same breeder right away, even though his heart hadn’t begun to heal from the loss. Fuhren was a critical part of Phil’s every day life. That breeder would be able to get him a puppy specifically bred for Phil’s unique purposes.
Renewed Hope Through Name Search
Nancy wanted to help, but all she had was the breeder’s name. She searched online without luck. Things were already getting tough for Phil. Without his service dog, he was more vulnerable and dependent on others.
She then came across the Spokeo website and ran a name search. To her surprise and relief, she found the breeder! Soon, Alvis Breeders sent Phil another German Shepherd service puppy. Phil named his new dog Panzer — after the German metal band, of course. But also panzer in German means “armor,” which is exactly what Panzer is for his master.
Rock on, Phil! And thanks, Nancy. Sounds like Phil’s got more than one best friend.