It only seems fitting that this month I write about freedom and sacrifice. July 4th is Independence Day. A time to reflect on our past and the sacrifices so many men and women made to give us our independence. We have an obligation and responsibility to maintain it. I think us as Americans with individual beliefs and feelings show that gratitude in a variety of ways.
For some dogs, especially those with an unknown past, a past with physical and psychological trauma, or the aged and infirmed; FREEDOM only comes when special people step up. I cannot think of any more special people than Bud and Karen Fitzpatrick. Despite Karen and Bud’s own physical and family concerns, they have opened their hearts and home to some very “battle-scarred” canines. Least I mention, Bud is A Viet Nam Veteran. These two folks epitomize love, sacrifice, kindness, dedication, responsibility, and grit.
Many years ago Karen rescued a 2 year old husky named Jedi. Upon entering his early teens, he was diagnosed with insulin dependent diabetes. This diagnosis not only placed time constraints on the couple but financial due to the frequent veterinary visits, special diet, and insulin. With the help of their veterinarian, Dr. Elizabeth Tullett at Allen Heights and some savvy budgeting, the family made it work. Jedi had 3 wonderful years after being diagnosed. They postponed vacations except for a couple quick get aways because Jedi needed to be cared for by people knowing that disease and that is when a veterinary technician would stay at their home.
Despite the trials and tribulations being endured caring for Jedi, Karen and Bud opened their door for Buddy. Buddy was a regal Dalmatian; a not so refined southern gentleman. He was heartworm positive, scruffy, and had lacked human interaction. He became physically healthy and heartworm free with the help of Dr. Tullett and her staff. His behavior became quite obedient with the training and guidance from Leea Foran at Foranimals. He had 8 years in a loving family. In 2011 on Valentine’s Day due to major health complications, he was sent to the Rainbow Bridge.
With the heartache still present, Karen and Bud saw the loneliness in Jedi and heard of a dog in urgent need. This time it was a southern unrefined female ball of energy. Maggi, as she came to be called by the Fitzpatrick’s, needed much training to become civil. After all, she was an indoor dog and living with an older and rather quiet fella named Jedi. Again, Dr. Tullett and Leea Foran were called in to assist in turning this gal into a dog they could handle. Success!!!!!!! Harmony was back in the home.
Soon after Maggi arrived, Jedi’s diabetes worsened. His vision was completely gone and was loosing control of his bodily functions. Being the compassionate folks Karen and Bud are, they sent Jedi to be with his brother Buddy on Bud’s birthday. Karen remembers Dr. Tullett telling her how fortunate her dog was to have her in his life.
You think with all the time, energy, financial woes, and recent sadness Karen and Bud would say enough is enough; NOT SO. They heard of a very special dog named Lexi that was in a short term Kentucky foster home after being saved from a horrific hoarding court case in Tennessee. Karen spoke with the rescue group leader who also was an Animal Rights Law Professor at the University Of Kentucky and arrangements were made to get Lexi to Karen.
It was love at first sight for Karen when she met Lexi. Despite having had veterinary care in Kentucky, she was still rather inelegant, very slender and would get in a panic frenzy with loud noises especially thunder. Things for Lexi got much better over time with her loving family, Dr.Tullett, and Leea Foran. She will never be completely free of anxiety but her PTSD is quite controlled and manageable with the techniques the Fitzpatrick’s have learned.
In 2013, I learned of a senior black lab in Charlotte, North Carolina named Jerome. He had lived his entire life with the same family. The family recently had a baby and said they had to “get rid of him” because he was in the diaper genie and garbage so they booted him to live outdoors until someone would take him or they would drop him at the public shelter. That nearly broke my entire heart in half. Knowing my friend, Karen, always had 3 dogs and now had two, a call was made. Jerome had a place to go for however long he may have to live.
Upon laying eyes on Jerome, Karen and Bud felt his loneliness and rejection. They also shared their anger on how this family could do to him what they did. Their girls, Maggi and Lexi, loved him too. They were very kind and allowed him to have the couch. Jerome loved hanging out with Karen and sunbathing on the deck. He loved the extra attention he got when her granddaughter, Sara, would come over and visit. He NEVER went in the trash. Karen’s only regret is that Jerome had only 8 months with the family until he had to be sent to the Rainbow Bridge.
When Karen and I spoke about the short time they had with Jerome, she relayed that in her heart she knew he had a great 8 months. He had indoor living, good food and treats, safe yard to play in with the girls, a deck to lay on in the nice weather, and awesome veterinary care. But most of all, he knew REAL LOVE. She shared that Jerome gave more love to her and Bud than they probably gave him. She went on to state that it is about quality not quantity. She wishes more people would consider giving a home to an aged dog because they have so much love and gratitude to share with you.
Something was missing in 2014 at the Fitzpatrick home. Could it be that third canine member? Since Karen had a soft spot for Dalmatians, she found a rescue group that had a deaf dal that had in less than a year been in 3 homes. Upon discussion with Bud and the “girls”, they applied to adopt her. The application was approved. Haley arrived to their home quite spirited and full of vigor. Again, Leea and Dr. Tullett assisted in the vetting and training to assist in the transition.
Today, Karen and Bud, have 3 well- behaved, healthy, and very happy rescue dogs. They remain with a few “battle scars” but as each day passes the scars fade a bit. This couple clearly demonstrates the old saying: “there are not bad dogs, just irresponsible owners”. I hope as you read this story, you think about adopting a dog. And, know that with the proper vetting and training, your dog will live in harmony with you and your family.
Let’s Get More Dogs On That Freedom Train!!!!!!!!!
Happy Tails until Next Month.