MYRTLE CREEK, Oregon — Travis Dow was grieving his fiancee, who was among nine killed last week by a gunman at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College, when he suddenly began to wonder: “Where’s Bullet? Did Bullet get shot?”
Bullet was Sarena Moore’s service dog and was by her side in the classroom as she sat in her wheelchair.
On October 1, he lay docile, just as he was trained, when a student came into class and opened fire. Moore, 44, was one of his first targets.
A fellow student who was wounded said Moore was obeying the gunman’s command when she was killed.
The shooter ordered everyone to the ground, Tracy Heu said, and when Moore obeyed, he told her to get back on her wheelchair. She did. Her shot her anyway.
Bullet never left Moore’s side. He was there when she took her last breath.
“That’s what he is trained to do,” Dow said. “He’s trained to stay right next to her no matter what.”
Moore loved the dog and trained him herself, Dow said. That’s why he feared he’d lost not only Moore, but the companion she depended on.
“You name it — he did everything with her,” Dow said.
The day after Moore was killed, Dow says, the police came to his front door. He looked down to see Bullet wagging his tail.
“I was ecstatic,” Dow said.
But he has since noticed Bullet is not the same.
“He’s been acting really droopy. He knows she ain’t coming home, ’cause he was there when the fatal day happened,” Dow said.
Dow says Bullet represents a dream Moore had to train animals to comfort humans. She was working toward a business degree despite suffering excruciating back pain that made her rely on a wheelchair to get around.
Dow says she suffered from sciatica.
“Her dream was to always open a ranch for handicapped kids to ride horses. She wanted people to know there is better therapy out there than just dogs,” Dow said.
For Dow, the dog his fiancee trained is exactly what he now needs for comfort.
“Bullet became a piece of Sarena, and I was happy to get him back.”
Bullet was named by his previous owners. Dow and Moore could never have known it would be Bullet that helped make her life better, and a bullet that would take her life away.