Adopted Dog Lends a Helping Paw to Her Person

This injured man is fighting his way back after finding a furry reason to keep going.

every gift saves lives

every gift saves lives

Kernie + Katie

I’m Katie and I have the best job that a dog can have: I am a helper to my person. Something bad happened to him: afterward he could not stand, walk, sit up, eat, or talk, and had to stay in bed. When I met him he was lying motionless. I licked his cheek to see if he was still warm. As soon as I did that, his face muscles changed into a smile.

"My job is to keep him company and never leave his side."

I liked that look better so I kept doing things that made his face go that way. I am a companion dog. My job is to keep him company and never leave his side (unless I have to potty and that is done outside). We do everything together and every day he is getting better. At first he had tubes in his throat and belly. I would lie still and be careful not to pull on them. He would pet me with the hand that moves and make soft sounds that only I understood.

When the tubes were removed, he had to learn to eat and talk again—and I am really good at both. Every day I helped him clean his dish, which really impressed his caregiver. Now they bring two bowls: one for him and one for me. But when he finishes his food, he still has me lick his dish clean.

He likes to watch TV. One day he could not reach the remote control, so I helped. I picked it up in my mouth and dropped it in his hand that moves. His face made a smile.

We always talk in our own special way. I know when he is happy, sad, sleepy, sick, frustrated, grumpy, anxious, or needs help. I can feel him. Many times I have made sound for him. I bark until the hands come to help. They always thank me and call me his good little nurse. Then one day he decided to make sound on his own. He started talking again and he always has someone to talk to: me.

But we still speak our own language. It comes from the heart. He tells me that I am good for his heart. In all things, the will to live is strongest in those who have someone to love and be loved by. What have I brought to my person’s life? He says that I am the reason he opens his eyes each morning. And I am his dream of walking again. He says that one day we will walk together in the sunshine, feeling the soft grass between our toes. My person needed hands but he found a paw—and his biggest helper.

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Kernie Sawatis won Indian Summers Border Collie Rescue OAIC, Inc. in Ohio a 2017 Holiday Wishes award.