Des Plaines resident Patricia "Patti" Kennedy, whose loyal companion, a yellow Labrador retriever named Zurich, won the American Humane Association's Hero Dog Award for service dogs in October 2011, has died. She was 66.
Kennedy is survived by her husband of 16 years, Dion Luper, and her two children, Christopher Kennedy and Brendan Kennedy.
Visitation is today until 8 p.m. at G.L. Hills Funeral Home, 745 Graceland Ave., Des Plaines. A memorial service will be held 10 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home with a private interment.
The story of Kennedy and Zurich was part of a 90-minute special broadcast on the Hallmark Channel that highlighted hero dogs across the nation. The Hero Dog awards ceremony tribute video of Patti & Zurich can be viewed at hallmarkchannel.com/herodogawards/video/WinningDogs/Zurich.
Kennedy suffered from a rare degenerative brain stem disorder known as multiple system atrophy, or Shy-Drager syndrome. She applied for a service dog from Canine Companions for Independence in 2001 and three years later was matched with Zurich.
The dogs are trained to be helpers and companions for people suffering from debilitating disabilities and disabled veterans, and they are often used in nursing homes and rehabilitative care centers for their therapeutic value.
Memorial contributions may be made to Canine Companions for Independence at caninecompanions.org or mailed to Canine Companions for Independence, North Central Regional Center, 4989 State Rt. 37 East, Delaware, Ohio 43015-9682. (740) 833-3700.