THE death of a beloved pet is always a traumatic experience and perhaps even more so when the departed animal is also a colleague.
The death last week at Noni, a beautiful golden retriever aged 12, has affected not only her owners Rustam Yumash and his partner Nerida Saunders, but all those associated with Tweed Heads psychology clinic Solstice Mind Matters - staff and clients alike.
Also grieving is Noni's soul mate Cassie, a Cavalier King Charles-Cocker Spaniel cross, who shared a home as well as therapeutic duties at Solstice Mind Matters with Noni.
Noni and Cassie worked as special assistants at the clinic where they helped to create a friendly environment for clients, especially young children.
Cassie would greet clients at the door while Noni would sit in on sessions with staff.
"The dogs have an incredible rapport with children," Ms Saunders said.
"It just helps to calm them and make them feel at home or at a friend's place.
"Adults are also affected by the dogs' presence as well. Noni would walk in, sit next to them and put a paw on their hand or just lick it.
"People say they never forget the experience - Noni somehow just knew when a client needed her special attention."
A celebration of Noni's life will be held at noon on Saturday on the beach at Jack Evans Boat Harbour - Noni's favourite place.
"To her the ultimate in pleasure was getting down to the harbour where she absolutely loved to watch the fish swimming and walking in the waves as they lapped on the beach," Dr Yumash said.
Noni's friends are invited to attend the celebration of her life at which they are invited recount stories about Noni's exploits as a mentor and friend.
Prior to the celebration, Ms Saunders and Dr Yumash will board a canoe and then spread Noni's ashes across her beloved waterway.
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