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  • Writer's pictureKevin Roeckl

Carly portrait in progress 4

Updated: Jan 26, 2021

I want you to know what I thought about when I worked on Carly’s eyes.

When Phyllis first contacted me in 2019 to get on my waiting list for a portrait of her beloved Service Dog, Carly, she told me:

“Carly has been my service dog for ten years, we've been side by side for ten years. She's in renal failure. I don't know what I'm going to do without her. Where ever I am there is Carly and where ever Carly is there I am also. She loves her job and loves being by my side. As long as Carly is alive I will never be alone, I will always have companionship. We have been together so long that we can read each others body language and know each other's thoughts. Everyday that passes I only love her more, she's the one I would lay down my own life for! She's everything to me! “

Sadly, while Phyllis waited her turn for a portrait, Carly’s life came to an end. When I was ready to start on the portrait, I asked Phyllis to tell me about Carly. Read her words about this amazing girl and you will understand why Carly was her heart and soul....
Fine art portrait of  Golden Retriever Service Dog, in progress
I got Carly at 6 weeks old

and she never once peed in the house. I started training her right away. At 6 months old Carly got her Canine Good Citizenship, at 8 months old she was walking the aisles of Walmart, and by the time she was a year old she got certified as a full fledged Service Dog. She was totally attached to me and lived to serve me! She also loved learning new things! It was a true match made in heaven! A dog like Carly comes once in a lifetime.

Carly knew over 200 commands....

I depended on her for everything. Before Carly came along I stayed in the house all the time. I was afraid I would get knocked down to the floor because I was unsteady on my feet. Carly could open doors, turn the light on and off, grab the phone when it rang. Carly not only helped me with my physical handicaps she helped me emotionally because of the PTSD I suffer from. She would wake me up every morning at 8:00 AM exactly with my medicine bag and made sure I took my meds, she would wake me up from a nightmare by kissing my face, she could stop a panic attack dead in it’s tracks and she would make sure I got back to bed if I started to walk in my sleep.

When we were out

she would circle around me if there was a crowd, this way people would not get too close to me. We were so deeply bonded that we could read each others minds. Carly was my independence! She went with me to Doctor's appointments, she went with me to church every Sunday and when I went up to the altar for communion she went up to the altar with me and was blessed every Sunday. I had her love, I had it all. I'm grateful for each day I had her by my side. She stood by me and never let me fall. She saw me through everything. Always by my side, the tender way she took care of me, a light in the dark shining her love into my heart. My world was a better place because of Carly.

Let me tell you a couple of memories of how Carly helped me.

Back in 2011 I got dizzy and fell and broke my left tibia. I had to fight for my right to have Carly in the hospital. Then they overdosed me and Carly was with me. They asked my husband to get out of the room and take Carly home. They didn't realize I was crashing at first they thought something was wrong with the heart monitor. Carly knew though. She was so upset and worried that my husband had to carry Carly out of my hospital room. She didn't want to leave me. My husband said Carly laid by the front door all night crying, she knew I almost died. When I finally came to in the ICU I asked for my dog. They told me dogs aren't allowed in the ICU. I told them get my dog here now or I'm going to sue you for violating the ADA Laws. They called the hospital administrator and Carly was back in my ICU Unit within an hour. Oh boy what a reunion it was when Carly knew I was okay. She hopped up on the bed and was just kissing my face and wagging her tail a mile a minute.

Another time we were in the GAP Store and I bought a pair of jeans that had ripped. The manger was giving me a hard time about the return and refused to help me. She was screaming her head off at me going nuts. Thanks to Carly I remained calm and cool. Carly saw that I was starting to get upset and nudged me to pet on her head to calm me down. So, while this manager was going nuts, thanks to Carly I was just petting my dog and was calm as could be. Carly could stop a panic attack dead in it’s tracks!


I walked into the vet's office and looked into Carly’s eyes and they told me it was time to let her go to the Bridge and rest. Without saying a word, she told me, “Come lay beside me I been holding on and waiting for you, I want you with me when I left”. Carly is my loyal dedicated servant dog and for that I’m the luckiest person alive. I laid down beside her stroked her head and told her she was the joy of my life.

The first time I saw her she took my breath away. I may not get to Heaven but I knew from the get-go she was special and I walked with an angel every day.

Some may have their riches some may have their worldly goods. As long as I had Carly, I was the richest person on earth. I’m glad I got one more opportunity to let her know she was the joy of my life.

Physically we are separated and my heart aches without your smile.

You will always own my heart.

Even though I try to be strong and not cry, the truth brings a tear to my eye.

All the words in the the world cannot express the joy you brought me throughout the years.

So, thank you my love until we meet again.

- Phyllis Zaretzky


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