Happy Tail: Penny has an empathetic nature

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Pam Smith of Edinburgh, IN, didn’t go looking for a dog for herself. She’d had to have her pet of 15 years euthanized, and her heart was still broken, but a friend of hers wanted a pet, and Pam began searching online. She saw Penny, who had been surrendered to the Shelbyville/Shelby County Animal Shelter in Shelbyville, IN, because she had lived on a farm and kept chasing the barn cats. The shelter has been listing its adoptable pets on Petfinder since 2002.

Penny watches over things from her favorite chair.

Penny watches over the Smiths from her favorite chair.

“When I saw her eyes, I knew she was the one,” Pam says.

Her husband, Larry, wasn’t so sure. Penny was already about five years old, and he wanted a puppy. But Pam prevailed, and the couple gained a new family member — and a welcome addition she has turned out to be.

As it turns out, Penny is something of an empath, who really feels for her people. A week after adopting Penny, Larry, who has Parkinson’s disease, fell. The dog ran over and lay down beside him, put her paw on him and licked his face. If Larry had had any doubts about Penny, that laid them to rest.

Now, two years later, she continues to be in tune with the couple. “Larry is now bedfast, but if anybody new comes in the house, she won’t leave his bedside until she is sure they won’t hurt him,” Pam says.

Penny’s empathy isn’t reserved for Larry. When he became ill and was in the hospital, Pam was disconsolate and would cry at night. “Penny would jump up on the bed and cuddle with me,” she says. “She would lie with her back to me, put her head on my pillow and sigh deeply. She has never jumped on the bed since.”

The three of them have formed a strong bond that is serving them well during difficult days.