It was 2014 when George, a Vietnam veteran, first met Bobby-Eagle, a then 10 year-old Bichon Frise. The senior dog was suffering from separation anxiety. Yet he turned out to be the perfect pet to help George overcome the disabling impacts of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and his wife cope with being a double amputee.
When we first shared this pair’s story of mutual healing it was evident they had formed a special relationship. Nearly three years later their bond is stronger than ever. Thanks to our partners at the Humane Society of the Huron Valley in Ann Arbor, Michigan for making this story of enduring love possible.
“We didn’t get the dog we wanted – we got the dog we needed”
At nearly 13 years of age Bobby-Eagle may not be the affectionate, cuddly lap dog George and his wife Patricia had hoped to find. Still, they would not change a single thing about their furry companion.
“We wanted a lap dog,” George admits. “He’s not. We wanted doggy kisses. He’s coming around, and his kisses are precious. We felt we didn’t get the dog we wanted – we got the dog we needed.”
Since coming home with George and Patricia, Bobby-Eagle has become an invaluable member of the family. In addition to helping George cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder the little white pup swiftly picked up a few life-saving skills. Among them is recognizing Patricia’s sleep apnea; Bobby-Eagle wakes her up whenever she experiences an episode.
Although it took some time for Bobby-Eagle to settle in and fully trust his new people, George and Patricia remained patient and worked with him as he slowly began to realize that he was “home.” Transitioning from a shelter environment into a household is not always easy for companion pets. It is important that people give adopted dogs and cats the time they need to adjust.
“He has really changed,” George observes. “When we first got him, it took him a while to accept and trust us. When going on walks, he would just meander around, sniffing, et cetera. My wife Trish said he was ‘checking the mail.’ Now he walks off leash, obeys my commands, and runs all over the park stopping to ‘check the mail.’ Then he races me home. When he gets home he goes crazy, rubbing on the floor and furniture and throwing his chew bone.”
Bobby-Eagle and George bonded fairly quickly, leaving Patricia a bit left out at first. But it did not take too long for the senior dog to warm to her as well. Now the two are practically inseparable.
“At first he accepted me but ignored Trish,” George explains. “Now, with her giving him scratches and loving, she gets kisses and says, ‘That’s mommy’s baby.'”
Patricia lost her left leg nearly ten years ago after an automobile accident. In July of 2015, she lost her right leg as a result of poor circulation caused by smoking. Bobby-Eagle sensed her depression and more limited mobility. He was content to spend a good part of his days lounging in bed with Patricia to keep her company.
It was as though the little curly-haired dog appointed himself as Patricia’s four-legged therapist.
“He has brought us great joy and love with his trust and love for us,” George says. “We hope that we’re providing a good home in his senior life.”
It is nearly three years into their adoption and George is still mesmerized by his little senior dog. Even the smallest things bring the Vietnam veteran untold joy.
“We have so much pleasure watching him sleep,” he says. “He has so many positions. Some nights he sleeps tightly against me, then later he moves to Trish. But most of the time, his butt is against me with his head on Trisha’s stump.”
Senior dog is young at heart
With his puppy days far behind him it would be reasonable to expect Bobby-Eagle to take it slow. But the union of this senior dog with his elderly guardians seems to have brought a more youthful vigor into all of their lives. It is one of many reasons that companion pets are often recommended for senior citizens.
“He has become more playful,” George says of his furry charge. “Before, he never played with toys, but now he plays with his chew bone – throwing it and chasing it. Sometimes he’ll bat it in the air and chase it.”
While Patricia is more limited in the things she can do with Bobby-Eagle, she is no less amused by his antics.
“Trish enjoys when I throw it,” he continues. “She hears him running and says, ‘You and your crazy dog.'”
Since being adopted the senior dog has discovered a love for play-fighting, and likes to be chased. And while a collapsed trachea sometimes limits his wild times, Bobby-Eagle enjoys spending as much outdoor playtime as possible with his Vietnam veteran dad.
Bobby-Eagle’s zest for life and friendly nature made him a fixture in the neighborhood. His positive influence has now spread beyond the walls of their home.
“Bobby-Eagle has become the neighborhood ambassador,” George explains. “We live three houses from a park that has four entrances, and when we walk, he goes and checks on his doggy friends and greets any new dogs. On the other side of the park is a middle school, and the kids just adore him.”
Little dog, big blessing
As it turns out it is not just the local kids who adore the curly-haired senior dog.
“He now has a girlfriend who moved in across the street from us. She’s a young chihuahua named Doodles.”
Family, friends, a cozy bed, treats, and a blossoming romance. What more could a dog want?
Since joining George and Patricia’s pack, Bobby-Eagle has learned to love and play again. His anxiety is subsiding as he grows to understand that his family is not going to abandon him. In exchange for the comfort and security that George and Patricia have provided, Bobby-Eagle willingly offers up endless unconditional love and loyalty.
“He is a super intelligent, loving dog,” George says. “We were blessed by how he came into our lives, and we pray we bring joy and love to him for the rest of his life.”