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SMITH: The $9,200 that tried to save Warner

  • Tony Compton and his guide dog Warner (COURTESY PHOTO)

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

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 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.

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