Part of the Labrador retriever’s training was to sense when the demons of war had invaded Wade Baker’s dreams.
“I woke up with Honor standing on my chest, licking my face,” the Gulf War veteran once told an interviewer. He tried to push his service dog away, but Honor persisted. “He was stopping the nightmare for me,” Baker said.
And so, when he saw his master lying in the flag-draped casket, Honor pushed through the clutch of weeping family members, reared up and tried to climb in. Unable to comfort Baker, the lanky black dog curled up beneath the coffin. For Baker, the long nightmare was finally over. Yet Honor was still on duty.
These days, Honor is more pet than service dog. But he still has special powers.
If one of the boys becomes emotional, their mother said, Honor will rear up and gently press his front paws into his chest. “And they just melt and embrace him.”
She kept some of her husband’s ashes, which he’d wanted scattered at favorite waterfalls and other spots they’d visited. When the boys are ready, she plans to take them to fulfill his wishes.
And when they do, it will be with Honor.