Today military veteran, Stephen is enjoying a new phase in his life thanks to his companion Baloo, the service dog. Getting these two connected involved several animal welfare and human welfare organizations. Lots of hard work and time were poured into the effort.
It all started a few months ago, when rescuer Karen Lucchesi began feeding Baloo on the streets.
Karen is not a registered 501(c)3 non-profit, she is simply big-hearted and over the last several years has rescued hundreds of animals from the streets of the San Antonio. She brings them to Hill Country Animal League (HCAL) for affordable spay/neuter and preventive care, gets them back to good health, and then re-homes them.
When Karen brought Baloo into HCAL, Sue St. Cyr of L&S Dog Diggity Rescue recognized the dog’s potential and posted his information on a website called Petfinder. Shepherds For Lost Sheep was in the process of looking for the right dog for Stephen. Kristen, Stephen’s wife, saw Baloo on Petfinder and Shepherds For Lost Sheep contacted Sue and Karen. They evaluated the dog and found he was a possible candidate.
Baloo’s trainers, Larry and Cathie, began conference calls with the VA hospitals in Cleveland, OH and Richmond, VA with Stephen’s medical practitioners to learn more about his disabilities and any limitations he may have. Stephen suffers from a condition called Moyamoya which can cause him to pass out.
Kristen suggested a card be sent to Stephen “from Baloo” as a way of letting him know that Baloo was now in training specifically for Stephen. When he was presented with a card, he was eager to meet this amazing dog. Shepherds For Lost Sheep then sent him a list of commands they had taught Baloo so he could practice using the commands.
And then the really amazing part… Stephen and Kristen flew to San Antonio and then went to Vanderpool to meet Baloo! There Stephen trained with Baloo for two weeks! They became fast friends and both completed the training with flying colors.
Before returning home to Virginia, Stephen and Kristen brought Baloo, along with trainers Larry and Cathie, to the Hill Country Animal League so they could meet Karen Lucchesi and thank her for rescuing Baloo from the streets. It was so heartwarming to see Stephen interacting with Baloo and he even threw a tennis ball around for him. It’s a long journey from the streets to being matched to a veteran, but totally worth it! Thanks to everyone involved for making this happen!
Below is information for the organizations involved. Please consider giving today to keep these amazing unions happening!
Click here to email Karen Karen’s cell phone: 210-255-7746
shepherdsforlostsheepinc.org (Larry and Cathie)
dogdiggityrescue.com (Sue St.Cyr)