“Buddy is my best friend and I know we were meant to be together. My life would be very different without him.”
A year after losing her 16 year old Keeshond, Karen Wilkendorf found herself at the Sacramento SPCA. Previously diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and walking with a cane, Karen felt it was time to find her next companion, a dog that would be by her side as her disease progressed. Walking through the kennels, Karen saw Buddy, an 8-10 month old lab/ retriever mix. He wasn’t barking or whining, he just sat there in the back of his kennel. Using a technique she learned from dog trainer Victoria Stillwell, Karen squatted down and sat there for a few moments, feeling Buddy’s energy and letting Buddy feel hers. Soon the little dog gradually came up and sat down beside her in the kennel. Rising slowly, Karen knew Buddy had chosen her and she had chosen Buddy. To Karen’s dismay, she was not the only person interested in adopting Buddy; there was a family who had arrived at the shelter before Karen. Losing hope, she had resigned herself to the fact that he might not become her dog. Then the family left without him, and Karen saw her opportunity. On May 31, 2009, Buddy and Karen left the shelter together, the best of friends.
Over the years, Karen has taught Buddy some standard commands and a few tricks. He is not aggressive, loves people, children, and meeting “new” friends. Buddy also doesn’t bark much—not even to be let outside. Now wheelchair bound due to her MS, Karen and Buddy spend all of their time together. Buddy is as much a caretaker as he is a companion. On his own, he has begun to perform service type behaviors. When Karen is not feeling well, Buddy will lie down next to her, he barks to alert her when someone is on the walkway or at the door.
A donor since 2011, Karen recently decided she wanted to find another way to support the shelter and help adopters find their companions by paying the adoption fees for cats and dogs. “I believe all animals can give the gift of companionship to any person. They don’t have to be a service or young animal to provide love and support to their family,” Karen said. Karen’s adoption sponsorships are specifically to help senior and disabled animals find new homes. She explains “elderly and disabled animals still have the ability to be a part of the family and make a difference in their lives. Whether it is to support or inspire their family members—animals in any form have the ability to do this for their owners.”
Are you interested in sponsoring the adoption fees for animals at the Sacramento SPCA? Please contact Michele K. Steiner, development office at 916-504-2870 to discuss how you can help.