Magic left his paw prints all over the heart of Tiffin, his handler said Friday.
The 8-year-old golden retriever who had spent six years as Tiffin City Schools' therapy dog died Thursday night at the home of counselor Suzanne Reinhart.
"Magic died of a big heart," she said.
Reinhart said Magic was panting profusely in his kennel Thursday night and died when she went out to start the van to take him to the veterinarian. She said she scooped him in her arms and knew he was gone.
"It was very quick. ... He didn't suffer," she said.
Reinhart said the suspected cause of death was hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is an enlarged heart. She said she had no idea Magic had the condition and was told even if she would have known, nothing can be done for it.
"It doesn't have a lot of symptoms," she said.
Magic came from Assistance Dogs of America Inc. and started working at Tiffin City Schools when he was 2 years old. Reinhart recalled telling someone less than a week before he died she hoped to get four more years of service from Magic.
"I didn't get four more days. ... Life is short," she said.
Reinhart said Tiffin City Schools was blessed to have Magic for six years.
Last school year, he spent time at Krout, Noble and Washington elementary schools. He did individual counseling and therapy, worked with social skills groups and spent time with regular education students and students with special needs.
"He did whatever needed to be done, and a lot of times, he did it by simply being there. ... We used him any way we possibly could," she said.
Reinhart said Magic was a friend, confidante and support to every student with whom he came in contact, and she saw little miracles occur with children all the time.
"He made such a difference to those he came in contact with," she said.
Reinhart said she had had the opportunity talk to parents and children over the past couple of days, and it had been touching to hear what Magic had done.
"He had a real knack for recognizing and seeking out children who were struggling or children who had difficulties in their life," she said. "He knew which kid really needed him. He would seek them out in the hallway. He would seek them out in the classroom. ... He's amazing. He's absolutely amazing."
Candy Wingert, Washington's principal, said Reinhart approached her several years ago with a proposition to get a dog. No one could say "no" because Reinhart was so excited about it, she said.
Wingert said Magic took more care and attention than most pets simply because of the job he did. Reinhart was a constant companion for him, and he became part of her family, she said.
"The kids always refer to Suzanne as Magic's mom," she said.
Wingert said Reinhart and Magic became a team and touched students' lives at school. Magic's presence calmed an autistic child who was out of control during a drill, and a book Suzanne created helped a boy's fear of dogs dissipate.
Wingert also recalled teachers sitting on the floor with Magic on stressful days at school. He was as much as a therapy dog for the staff as he was for students, she said.
"Kids crawled all over him," she said.
Wingert said the loss to Tiffin City Schools is going to be huge. Some students have lost the only pet they've ever had, she said.
"He was definitely a huge tool in Suzanne's tool box. ... Kids talking to Magic would open up in ways they probably wouldn't (have) without Magic there," she said.
Tiffin City Schools hosted fun nights in honor of Magic. He and Reinhart received a 2010 Everyday Hero Award and presented sessions at a National Institute for Trauma and Loss In Children conference, according to the district's website.
Magic visited patients at Mercy Tiffin Hospital each week, and children could spend time with him during activities that were part of Tiffin-Seneca Public Library's 2010 and 2011 summer reading programs.
"Everyone who ever knew Magic carries with them a piece of his love, his compassion," Reinhart said.
Reinhart said there will be a service for Magic. She said she wants it to be before school starts and wants to use it as an opportunity to help children understand the grieving process.
"I think the children in the community deserve an opportunity to say goodbye," she said.
Reinhart's advice to people asking what they can do to help is "be Magic."
"Be kind. Be caring. Be compassionate," she said.
Reinhart said Friday she was sure many people joined her with broken hearts.
"The next dog will have big dog prints to fill," she said.