Mardi Gras Whitaker, a devoted therapy dog and 13-pound toy poodle whose engaging personality helped inspire a romantic comedy, died July 3, 2011, after complications from bronchitis. A street dog adopted by Bill and Ann Whitaker in October 1999, Mardi not only responded quickly to several levels of training in his native Abilene but proved himself adept at civic involvement, spending several years as a therapy dog in Waco’s Angel Paws program, regularly visiting hospitals, retirement centers and hospices with his mistress, Ann, and even serving in a funeral. He inspired the funniest sections in a novel, “Dog Nanny” (2009), and even made appearances promoting the book. Many evenings late in life, he lay at his master’s feet during the composing of newspaper editorials and columns at home. In his many outings about town, Mardi knew no stranger and was a sincere friend to all he encountered. He especially enjoyed attending parades. Affectionate, loving, brave, curious and intelligent, he proved himself a little fighter the last three and a half years of his life as he battled diabetes and endured twice-daily shots of insulin to maintain his vibrant lifestyle, including his beloved morning walks. He died very quietly in his mistress’ arms on the way to a local doggie hospital after a sudden illness over the Fourth of July weekend. He was a few months shy of his 13th birthday. He was a good boy. Survivors include his immediate family, including sister Jolie Blon Whitaker, and the physicians whose care, love and devotion added greatly to his life in all respects, Dr. Jered Johnston and Dr. Nicole Hudspeth of South Bosque Veterinary Clinic.