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A Canine Friend to Many Passes On

November 26, 2018

Student Jonathan Silvestre, 8, snuggled with Fiona as she visited Reingold Elementary School in Fitchburg in May. The beloved Great Dane who provided comfort to many died earlier this month. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE file photo Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

By Mina Corpuz

mcorpuz@sentinel andenterprise.com

FITCHBURG -- Fiona the Great Dane was a therapy dog for all.

The 9-year-old pooch that was part of the Be PAWSitive Therapy Pets and Community Education program died Nov. 15 after a brief illness.

“Her work in the classrooms of Fitchburg Schools, the Highlands, and Fitchburg Library was extraordinary and her quiet, gentle presence helped dozens of children improve their reading, and feel better about life,” Sally Cragin, a School Committee member and organizer of Be PAWSitive wrote on Facebook Sunday.

Fiona has been a therapy dog with the organization since it began.

She has visited people nervous about reading, kids struggling with trauma, probationers going through the court system and people in shelters.

People liked to sit down with, pet, and talk to Fiona. In school, some students read to her.

She was about 3-feet-tall from the ground up to her shoulder and weighed 125 pounds.

Helen Donlan adopted Fiona as a puppy and accompanied her in schools, library, nursing homes, shelters, and more.

They also liked to walk together around parks in the city and enjoyed watching television together, Cragin said.

“Fiona especially enjoyed crime shows, as gunshots and other noise would prompt her to leap off the couch and bark happily at the screen,” Cragin wrote.

Be PAWSitive trains dogs, cats, mini-horses, rabbits, and small animals as therapy animals.

Volunteers and therapy animals have visited venues including the Highlands, the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster and Fitchburg State University.

Follow Mina on Twitter @mlcorpuz

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