it’s stories like this that make me tear up

August 1st, 2008 § 0 comments

Bob Mikolasko
GRANADA HILLS — The dog left on the doorstep of the southern California pet clinic was sick. The letter left with him was heartbreaking.

“Dear Drs., please forgive me for this horrible transgression. I have no where else to turn so I ask you to mercifully, gently and lovingly please help him sleep. His name is Kaiser and he’s 16-and-a half years old. He’s been my friend, my teacher, my pupil, my lifelong loving and loyal companion,” the letter said.

On the envelope, the author of the letter said that he thought Kaiser had two strokes the night before.

“Be good to him as you would your own child, for he’s been mine for a loving lifetime,” the envelope read.

Inside, the writer continued to pour his heart out.

“We’ve been together 24-7 365 days a year since he was 8 months old. He’s gentle, smart, and I’ll miss him more than I could admit. Saturday evening, without warning or any outside influence, he began rolling on his back on the floor, all four legs extended, rigid and thrusting wildly in all directions. I saw fear and panic in his otherwise unrecognizable eyes. His head was pulled down to his right, and he seemed unable to do otherwise. If I had to render a guess I would say it appeared as though he had a stroke. He can stand, but 85 percent unsteady. He’s fearfully reacting to attempts to get him to drink water. He refuses food as though he’s totally lost knowledge of what to do with food.”

“I’m a homeless disabled vet, and I know when it’s time to say goodbye to a friend, and it’s time now. He’s such a part of my being, I’ll once again be alone in my life. I love you Kaiser, thank you for caring, sincerely, Kaiser’s Soul Mate.”

Debbie Herot, a manager at Pet Medical Center Chatoak in Granada Hills, found the letter and the dog on the clinic doorstep as she came in to work last week.

Though she tries to keep an emotional distance from the pets she sees, in this case, she couldn’t do it.

“After you’re in this business for so long you learn to look the other way, because we have to euthanize animals. This one i couldn’t euthanize,” Herot said.

Instead, Herot tried to turn another loss into a gain. Last year, 23-year-old clinic employee Eric Flesher died in a car crash. Herot said he used to hate seeing animals come in that couldn’t get treatment because their owners couldn’t afford the cost of the care. So after his death, his family set up a fund to help animals like Kaiser. It’s likely Flesher would be happy with how it was used in this case.

Herot said it turned out that Kaiser hadn’t had a stroke, but a much less serious illness that he is now almost fully recovered from.

With Kaiser doing better and the words of the letter still ringing in their heads, clinic employees set out to find Kaiser’s owner.

The story of the homeless vet’s letter eventually made it into the ear of Daily News columnist Dennis McCarthy. He ran titled: “Dear Veteran: Your best pal’s waiting to go home.” It ran on the front page – above the fold.

The story got KTLA’s attention, and we went out to the clinic to film a segment about the search for Kaiser’s owner. We didn’t have to wait long for the happy ending everybody was hoping for. While we were there filming, Bob Mikolasko showed up at the clinic. He had seen the story in the Daily News.

After correctly answering some questions about Kaiser that only he would know, Herot became convinced they found Kaiser’s “Soul Mate.”

More evidence came when they were reunited, with Kaiser’s tail wagging so vigorously it looked as though it was going to knock our camera off balance.

Before he left, Mikolasko thanked the stafff profusely and – summing up his feelings – proved to be just as poignant with the spoken word, as he had been with the written.

“When you leave your house in the morning and go to work and you don’t see them until you come back, well, that’s one lifestyle. You develop a rapport. I spent 11 years in a motor home living on the streets here, 24-7 with him. There was no baby sitter. There’s no break. There’s no summer vacation. There’s no going to work – when i go to work he goes with me,” Mikolasko said.

With that type of relationship, Mikolasko said you become more than just owner and pet.

“You end up with a lot different understanding and relationship with your pet… and he was never looked at as a pet, he was always a part of, me.”

Thanks to everyone who helped, he still is.

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