Woman's best friend - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Woman's best friend

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - For the past three years, Catherine Rodriguez and her dog Honey Bear have been inseparable.

"She wakes me up every morning and spends all day with me," she said. "She goes everywhere I go. If I go on a plane, she goes with me. If I go to a Padre game, she goes with me."

Catherine spent most of her life as an educator until she was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 1999. Honey Bear spent the first two years of her life in training to be a service dog.

"They need to have a good temperament. They need to be able to work well with people," Catherine said.

Even though it was love at first bite, Catherine and Honey Bear underwent a six-week long bonding period.

"They had to train me, because humans aren't as well trained as dogs," she said.

Service dogs need to be strong enough to assist Parkinson's patients to walk.

"They call it the 'Parkinson's shuffle'. We walk real small steps then we fall over. She gets my gait, so I walk with her gait.

"If I freeze, which occurs with Parkinson's, your brain tells your feet to move and your body ignores it. And she'll just put her paw on my foot and I start walking again," Catherine said.

Honey Bear so inspired Catherine, and Catherine so inspired Honey Bear that they've co-authored a book, "The World According to Honey Bear", a tail-wagging tale told in the first person.

The five-year-old Pyrenees-shepherd-Labrador mix recounts humorous and poignant stories from her daily life. It's a light-hearted book with a heartfelt message for the reader.

"I want them to understand what Parkinson's is and how much help a dog can be," Catherine said.

If you ask Honey Bear, she'll tell you she's just doing her job, a job she loves one step at a time.

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