Mattie’s Service Dog

Micah Brackenhollow Stepanek was born on March 12, 2002, the ninth in a litter of 10 purebred Golden retrievers. Several months earlier, Mattie met Sue Hendrickson, the archeologist who discovered the skeleton of “Sue the T-Rex” which is displayed in Chicago’s Field Museum, and who breeds her dogs for Canine Companions for Independence. Sue offered Mattie the pick of the litter during the next puppy season, and that pick was Micah. Mattie chose the name Micah to honor an Old Testament prophet who wrote and spoke of a just peace.

During early June, 2002, Micah joined Mattie and his mom, Jeni, as a service puppy in training. He passed all of his training tasks and examinations early and with flying colors, and quickly became not only a great source of help for the Stepaneks, but also a faithful friend and companion. On duty, Micah responded to alarms that came from Mattie’s ventilator, helped with doors, and retrieved objects for Mattie and Jeni. Off duty, Micah enjoyed amusing Mattie by chasing “Harry” (Mattie named Micah’s tail Harry), and rolling over for liberal belly rubs.

Across the years, Micah accompanied Mattie and Jeni as they traveled the country for peace- or disability-related conferences and events and for book signings. Micah’s first “media event” was a photo shoot with Mattie for the cover of the Toys R Us “Differently-Abled Toy Guide” when he was only 10 weeks old. By the age of 3 months, Micah was comfortable resting on Larry King’s desk or on the set of Oprah Winfrey’s show as Mattie continued his public appearances. He quickly became known as “Peace Puppy” by his many admirers.

Micah was deeply saddened when his ‘Daddy’ died in June, 2004. After Mattie’s death, Micah continued to be of service and a loving companion to Jeni, and the two were rarely seen apart from each other. A life-size bronze statue of Micah – paw raised and eyes attentively looking at the bronze statue of Mattie — is a part of the Peace Garden memorial tribute in the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park in Rockville, MD.

Micah passed away suddenly, but peacefully, on February 12, 2013.