There should have been a marching band or fireworks or confetti, something, when a blind man and an angel came Monday to a veterinary clinic in Rohnert Park.
Tony Compton, who's 66 and has lost most of his vision, did smile as big and brightly as a meteor upon paying the last $500 due from his attempt last summer to heal Warner, the black Labrador seeing-eye dog he can hardly mention without tears.
The medical bills totaled more than $9,000 and Warner died even so. Compton hasn't paid off all of the debt, he still owes a $2,000 loan.
But thanks to an outpouring of help from people like fellow Rohnert Park resident Lois Lindstrom, 84, whose <QA0>
social club gave him the $500, he's getting close to being able to do something he thinks about all the time.
HOW HE YEARNS <MC>to get another assistance dog. The former competitive bowler said his life opened up when he received Warner from The Seeing Eye Inc. in New Jersey in 2006.
Virtually blinded in his prime by retinitis pigmentosa, Compton didn't venture far from home when it was just him and his white cane. The affectionate, 77-pound Warner gave him the confidence to expand his world.
"Warner loved to be out and about and doing things," he said. "His presence in my life was just about as spectacular as it could be."
Compton will never know what caused Warner to fall dreadfully ill last August. "The doctor never could diagnose it exactly," he said.
His dog became lethargic and went into kidney and liver failure. "His system just shut down," Compton said.
He got Warner into the VCA Animal Care Center and pleaded with staffers do whatever they could to save his dog. It wasn't to be.
The clinic discounted Compton's bill but still it was $9,200. He was able to borrow $2,000 from The Seeing Eye Inc., and he commenced paying VCA what he could each month from his $1,946 in Social Security benefits.
COMPTON LIVES at Rohnert Park's Rancho Grande Mobile Home Park, where neighbors saw how the dog's death shattered him. Several hosted an ice-cream social, accepted donations and handed Compton $1,165.
Recently Lois Lindstrom, who retired as head of Marin's Department of Health and Human Services, heard about him and his quest to pay off the debt so he can afford to take on another dog. Lindstrom is president of the Rohnert Park Social Club.
"It had been the Newcomers Club but we all got too old to be newcomers," she said. She asked club members to donate $500 from their modest treasury to pay off Compton's vet bill, and they agreed.
Now Lindstrom hopes for help to pay off Compton's $2,000 loan, his last big obstacle before he arranges to return to New Jersey to train with another dog. Lindstrom is collecting donations made payable to her with "Tony Compton" in the memo space and mailed to 4507 Fairway Dr., Rohnert Park CA 94928.
The day Compton comes home with a dog will be another one deserving a marching band, confetti, something!
Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and firstname.lastname@example.org.