Stories of Hope
One-Dog Smoking Cessation Squad Puts Master's Light Out
Article date: December 4, 2001
Annie's anti-smoking campaign helped not only one person, but two!
There may be no zealot like the reformed, but Annie seems unlikely as either — whoever heard of a dog who smoked, or who quit cold turkey?
Meet Annie Friend, who did both. And insisted her master stop, too. Smoking cessation might seem like an unusual mission for a four-legged, 22-pound miniature American Eskimo dog, but it's one she took on in earnest.
Beverly Friend, her owner, knew of the American Cancer Society's anti-smoking efforts and shared her story.
Annie belongs to the Friend's, in Newbern, Tenn., home to about 1,100 families. When Beverly and her daughter, Trina, drive to town on Saturdays to shop, Annie always wanted to go. When she couldn't, she stayed at home with Bob, Beverly's husband.
During football season, Bob liked to enjoy the games on the couch with a beer and a cigarette. Annie kept him company. Like a good buddy, she would hang out on the back of the couch with him, and wait for Beverly's return. She would also help herself to a lick of the top of the beer can now and then.
One such Saturday, Beverly and Trina witnessed Annie's first — and last — puff. Annie got on the couch and walked up Bob's legs, and across his stomach.
"As she got closer," Beverly said, "her confidence seemed to waver." But not for long. Annie advanced slowly, retreated a bit, and then moved forward. Her lips were drawn back as she finally put her mouth on the cigarette.
As she was backing away, Bob took a puff and then blew the smoke in her face. Annie coughed and sputtered.
"That was a turning point for Annie," Beverly said..
Annie was quitting and it soon became clear that as far as she was concerned, Bob was quitting too, Beverly said. "She was on a mission."
With Annie, "you only have to tell her something once," said Beverly. Annie may have wished Bob was that way, too.
Dog Trains Man
Every time Annie heard the click of Bob's cigarette lighter, she would rush to him, jump on his lap, and make sputtering, sneezing noises, Beverly said. And she would keep this up until he put the cigarette out. Then she would go back about her business.
"She was committed and vigilant wherever we were and whatever she was doing," said Beverly. Even while riding in the car — which Annie adores — she would abandon her window seat at the click of Bob's lighter, and plant herself in his lap. Then she'd put her face by the vent and go into her choking routine.
As always, as soon as Bob put out his cigarette, she'd return to her seat, running from back and forth from window to window, barking happily, said Beverly.
Annie's relentless campaign began to wear on Bob, and one day, he said he had decided to quit. He'd quit before with varying degrees of success, Beverly said.
On previous attempts to quit, he'd gone for a few days to several weeks without a cigarette. "So of course I was pleased, but considering how many times I had heard this over the years, I was somewhat skeptical," she said.
At the same time she was still hopeful enough to want to support his effort any way she could. "I felt so helpless as he struggled with patches and gum," she said.
Bob did quit, but about a month later he came home looking defeated and unhappy — he confessed he'd smoked again, she said. Bob said he was emotionally addicted to cigarettes and felt like he couldn't change it.
He tried smoking cigars. Annie would have none of that.
"Smoking was smoking to Annie," Beverly said. A few months later, Bob announced his intent to quit again, she says; this time he tried an inhaler and then a patch.
And this time he finally quit. For good. Beverly said it was because he was able to break the emotional attachment, and because of his personal stop-smoking trainer, Annie.
Like Father, Like Son
"Cigarettes had a real grip on our son Stephen, too," said Beverly. But, she said, after he heard of his father's success, Steven told me, "If he can quit for as long as he's smoked, I can too."
"And he did," Beverly said. He was so scared he would start smoking again he had nightmares about it, she said.
Annie's anti-smoking campaign helped not only one person, but two, said Beverly. Not to mention those exposed to second-hand smoke!
Good girl, Annie!