ISLANDIA - An Islandia woman is remembering her late service dog thanks to a unique tribute that's very special to her.
Juliann Schill's black Lab-golden retriever mix, named Missy, was her constant companion. Missy died in January, just short of her 15th birthday.
News 12 first covered Schill and Missy about 10 years ago. Schill, who has a neurological disorder and complications from chemotherapy, was able to teach the dog how to use the controls on her specially equipped van to help Schill get in and drive.
Not long after Missy's death, Schill was playing one of her favorite video games, Animal Voyage: Island Adventure. She noticed there were no black Labs in the game, so she emailed the game's creators with a suggestion.
"I never expected them to actually come back and want to model the character after Missy," Schill says. But the creators did just that. Schill asked them to be sure to include Missy's little patch of white whiskers around her mouth, and they accommodated her.
Missy made her video game debut in June, and it means Schill gets to remember her old friend whenever she plays her favorite game.
Schill says she still sometimes cries at the loss of her friend, although the game brings back joyful memories and makes her laugh.