Kinsley & Hawk & Shelby

Kinsley & Hawk

“Two Golden Hearts”

By Kinsley Tarr

In the summer of 1994 I received a photo of Sarah Patzer and Hawk, the WAGS dog she was training for me and from that moment on, my life was changed forever. I still have that picture and will be sharing it along with a lot of other memorable moments, at the upcoming gala WAGS ball on October 4, 2003 at the Concourse Hotel in Madison.

This will be a very special day for Hawk, now 12 years old, as he will be officially retired as my working companion. Though this will be difficult for both of us, I would like to share with you why it will be the happiest day of my life.

Hawk, a golden retriever, has been a wonderful friend, companion and service dog. He has brought so much happiness into my life. I was 16 years old when we became partners and he bridged a huge gap in my life as a high school student. I have had Cerebral Palsy since birth, causing physical and cognitive disabilities.

In almost every situation, Hawk opened up my life. At the mall people will stop and talk with me about him. In a restaurant people always smile to see a dog lying next to them. At the movies, Hawk carries my candy and then lies on the floor and just sleeps next to all the popcorn I drop.

I am now 25 years old and Hawk has helped me become more independent. I am able to close my studio-apartment door with his help, so no one has to be home when I leave. If I drop anything he is right there to pick it up, so I am more independent at work. When I shop for groceries he can give my wallet to the clerk as I go through the check out. In cold weather he helps me remove my jacket.

He has taught me and others who meet us, about what I can do. He helped me learn to be patient and has always made me smile. He has never looked at me with anything but two big brown eyes, and the will to please. He does not judge me or see me as a person with limitations. I am his human and he has been my faithful friend.

As Hawk settles into his retirement with some volunteer work at our local nursing care facilities, I will be starting an adventure with my new WAGS service dog, a golden retriever named, Shelby.

Because of the tireless efforts of both Shelby’s volunteer trainer, Mike Croft, and the WAGS staff, I am very fortunate to continue my quality of life with the placement of another service dog. Shelby and Hawk have become great pals. Hawk is a great role model and Shelby is an eager student. They make quite a pair and will be my handsome escorts to the ball in October.

I am just about the luckiest lady there is, to share my life with eight furry paws, four big brown eyes, and “Two Golden Hearts”.

Kinsley & Shelby

“Thank You”

By Kinsley Tarr

The moments of my life have been marked by many challenges and triumphs. Through each experience I have learned more about who I am.

My life expanded and became real when I received my first WAGS dog, “Hawk” in 1995. He became my constant companion and dearest friend.  He went to high school with me, he was my handsome date to the prom, he attended graduation with me and became my ‘wings’ to the world.

There are no words to say, that can measure the sadness I felt that day, this May, when I had to say goodbye, to my dear friend, “Hawk”. My heart lost some of its gold, my spirit lost it’s soar…and for one long, silent moment, I felt all alone.

My first “thank you” is to Hawk’s trainer, Sarah Patzer, who devoted herself to make him into the most wonderful support and friend that he became.  Hawk was a reflection of the patience, care and love that Sarah put into his training, which he repaid with ten years of devotion to me.

My second “thank you” is to Mike Croft. Two years ago, I met Mike who was training two year old “Shelby”, another Golden retriever. Knowing that Hawk was not able to work anymore, WAGS felt that it was time to look for a successor. It was ‘love’ at first sight.  With Mike’s gentle patience and steady guidance, Shelby followed in Hawk’s footsteps, and became my second service dog. Shelby became Hawk’s ‘little brother’. Mike gave Shelby the love of a ‘devoted father,’ and Shelby in turn has become my ‘knight in shining armor.’

My third “thank you” is to Shelby. He came to me at a time when I had to separate from Hawk. When Shelby went out into the community with me and Hawk had to stay home, Shelby performed his duties with the qualities of a gallant successor. Yet, he devotedly brightened Hawk’s final days with the playfulness of an old ‘puppy’ pal.

I know Shelby feels the loss of our friend, but through this process has become my own true hero. He not only gave me back my wings to the world, he has given me the unconditional love of his own “golden heart.”