Elwood the Dog: An Unlikely Caregiver

Bill Clark, Senior Director of Community Outreach

Today, I write a different kind of memorial tribute. It is not for someone who had COPD, but instead for a pioneering caregiver. What makes this different is that this particular caregiver only weighed around 30 pounds and traveled our world on four legs. You might have guessed, Elwood was a dog, but just not any dog. Elwood, like his master, was a true inspiration in the early days of COPD awareness; who brought COPD awareness and his amazing master national attention while bringing hope, joy and love to patients all across the country.

This morning I received the following message: “With heavy hearts we said goodbye to our faithful friend, Elwood Borger last night. He has helped our family forage through some of the hardest times in our lives. Farewell to a dog who had no equal.”

Unlikely Caregiver for COPD During the early days of the COPD Foundation, and the C.O.P.D. Information Line, COPD awareness was in its infancy. The newly formed information line was receiving few calls. All of that changed with an interview given by Maggie Borger, one of the lines founding members. In that interview Maggie spoke of how Elwood, her little mixed breed rescued dog instinctively woke her up at night if her oxygen hose came off. A virtual avalanche of calls followed that interview, all asking how they could get a dog like Elwood! Maggie later did another interview describing how Elwood helped her get out of the house sharing walks. Once again, we were flooded with calls! Later, we would hear of service dog agencies training dogs to do what for Elwood was just instinctive.

Elwood appeared on his family’s Christmas cards and in family pictures. Conversations I had with Maggie were always prefaced by, “How’s Elwood?” to which Maggie would respond, “Right here by my side...as always.” We received numerous emails and letters asking about Elwood and Maggie, and Maggie would often share “Elwood stories” to people who called into to the line just to talk with her. When one of our dogs passed, Elwood always sent a sympathy card signed “With love from Elwood.” When Maggie’s illness no longer allowed long walks, Elwood while assuming a less physically active role, remained by his loving master’s side, watching and helping where he could and kept Maggie working to make a difference for others with COPD.

When Maggie passed in April of 2015, Elwood at first seemed to have lost his purpose in life, and spent countless days and nights searching the house for Maggie. Soon however, Elwood found a new purpose in helping his master’s family through their grief. On August 6th, a little over a year since Maggie left us, his work now completed, Elwood joined his beloved human in a place of indescribable beauty and love just across the Rainbow Bridge, where he once again resumed his purpose; watching over the master he loved so much in life.

The COPD Foundation along with those across the country touched by Maggie and Elwood, extend our sympathies and love to Elwood’s family.


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  • R
    RIP Elwood. Losing a dog is not different than losing a family member to us. We lost our Shih Tzu Heidi at age 17 in 2017 and had her cremated and her little box is kept in one of our corner display cases. Our two cats remember her well and for a long time they parked themselves in front of that case until we took the box out and let them smell it and roll on it as they remembered their old buddy. Eventually the quit doing that but will still smell the box with her ashes if we show it to them. We did get another dog after a bit and we only made one mistake - it looks exactly like Heidi but has a totally different personalilty.