‘An amazing soul’: Living tribute concert held for Calgary therapy dog

CALGARY — A living memorial concert was held Friday at a southeast Calgary park to say goodbyes to an award-winning therapy dog that has touched numerous lives.

Twillow Rose, a Shiloh shepherd therapy dog, was trained by Straja Linder King, who specializes in psychotherapy and animal-assisted clinical art therapy at Strawberry Moon Counselling.

Calgary musician Christopher Barran created a song, Roses Love the Rain, to honour the pooch, and performed it during the show at Pearce Estates Park.

“I came across a post of Straja’s on Facebook … and was impressed with Straja and Twillow’s bio. I recently met them and there was an instant connection between Twillow Rose and I,” he said.

“I told Straja that I would like to sing to Twillow and the idea just grew into a little concert gathering of gratitude for all she has contributed to the city of Calgary over the years.” 

A former instructor at the University of Lethbridge, Linder King spent the last 30 years working with therapy animals and facilitates pet loss workshops at the Calgary Human Society for those grieving the death of a beloved pets, most recently working with nine-year-old Twillow Rose and another therapy dog, Tala Rain.

Twillow Rose was diagnosed with cancer in 2019 and made multiple trips for care and treatment at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, undergoing radiation and chemotherapy.

Despite the best efforts given, both treatments failed and Twillow recently had her right foreleg amputated.

Sadly, her diagnosis has become palliative due to metastasis in both lungs.

“I’m so blessed that she’s still on earth,” said Linder King.

“And I’m not kidding. She’s still working. She’s still doing our therapy work. Even now that we know that her lungs are compromised, and she gets out of breath easily, but she’s still doing her work. She’s an amazing soul.”

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