Rob Tackett and Kimber

With so much negativity today I implore you to read this story. I also ask you to share this story. Spread the word of the great things that the Charleston Animal Society is doing. Not only for the animals, but for the people that have the pleasure of adopting the animals.

It is my belief that God gifted some very special dogs with spirits that pervade far beyond normal realm of companionship. These special dogs possess souls that intercede for man, when he is unable to find the words, the strength or the stamina to stand alone. Kimber is one of these souls, and her unique personality has, and continues to, actively serve American soldiers. This, is her story.

We hear stories of soldiers fighting for freedom. We sing songs, make banners, tie ribbons and hold dinners, celebrating their efforts and praying for safe returns. In all the fanfare, we tend to lose sight of the humanity of our armed forces – forgetting that these men and women are just like us. They are heroes, certainly, but they experience the same emotions, the same pain and the same needs that we, here, on the civilian side experience. They encounter some of the most horrific scenes – they watch as lives are taken, both friend and foe. They are active participants in the mortal journeys between earth and beyond. They humble themselves, serve selflessly and partake in some of the most ruthless positions, just to ensure the rest of us sleep soundly. While these actions, this servitude, brings forth the most complete sense of pride imaginable, it is also accompanied by some unpleasant emotions – guilt, anger, fear and unrest. Our soldiers return home, with pieces of themselves firmly planted in battlegrounds abroad. And those missing pieces lay the perfect soil for the implantation of all those unpleasant emotions.

Kimber in her new home

One such soldier returned home, not so long ago. His story follows the lines of so many of his brothers, and sisters, in arms. He lost parts of himself, he desired to keep, and brought home a few memories he desired to forget. Suffering from PTSD, he was given a second chance in the form of a German Shepherd service dog. His dog, Scout, was by his side day, and night, comforting him in his most vulnerable of times. During the floods last year, Scout, unfortunately became very ill and ended up passing away. Heartbroken, he did not know where to turn, until another shepherd came into his life to guide the way. This courageous man was introduced to another, small German Shepherd, who’s non-judgmental, innocent love grounded him in the good of humanity. With her own case of PTSD, Kimber understood the rough sides of humanity. She was empathetic to his sorrow and understanding of his hesitance. Slowly, Kimber was able to help her soldier uncover some of his joy, buried deeply within a calloused heart. Because of her astute insight, Kimber became a PTSD/anxiety service dog – her job to provide emotional support, unbiased love and a sense of grounding in the present moment. She became her soldier’s companion, confidant and best friend. Though Kimber’s dedicated service to her soldier was unquestionable, it seems as if Providence had more plans for the little German Shepherd, recognizing that she was put on earth to serve more of America’s best. In May of 2016, I was introduced to Kimber and her soldier, through the Charleston Animal Society’s “Charleston Firefighter Calendar.” Instantly, I knew that this dog was special. I saw the joy and the comfort that she brought her soldier. Kimber was abused, so she was understandably apprehensive around men. But for some reason, she was drawn to me. I carried her around the entire day, as she would rest her head on my shoulder. After the photoshoot was complete, I maintained a friendship with the soldier, and his family. They are incredibly special people, and I am privileged to have met them.

Not too long ago, this soldier became ill, and his priorities had to shift. His family contacted me asking if I would be able to care for Kimber while he received treatment. Without hesitation I agreed to foster her for as long as they needed. Unfortunately, his illness and condition prevented him from caring for Kimber the way the he felt she deserved. So with a heavy heart, he decided that it would be best for Kimber to be with someone that would be able to care for her. Knowing how special Kimber was, he reached out to me asking if I would be able to permanently adopt her.

Kimber knows exactly how to elicit smiles and joy, how to comfort, how to defend and how to protect. Kimber is a soldier’s dog. I plan on continuing to train her as a PTSD dog, with the intent to allow her to visit with other veterans, providing them with the same ferocious love that can only be given by this soulful German Shepherd. I often wonder, when little Kimber was brought to the Charleston Animal Society – abandoned and plagued by mange – if the volunteers knew what an impact she would have on the lives of soldiers throughout Charleston, SC. I wonder if they could tell that she was one of those dogs, blessed by God, to see through tragedy, straight to the vulnerable parts of all of us – the parts we so aptly hide from one another. I wonder if the donors, the calendar sponsors, the men and women who buy the Charleston Firefighter Calendars and the CAS staff knew that she would minister to the lives of so many. I am not sure if anyone knew of her life’s purpose, but I do know they cared enough to save her life; And I know they were able to do so through the generosity of our community and the fundraising made possible by the CAS Charleston Firefighter Calendar. It is because of these acts and the overwhelming generosity, and support, of our community, that I have had the privilege of watching one special German Shepherd provide so much joy to our soldiers. Now, I wonder – how many more incredible souls, like Kimber, might we save? If you haven’t already, please donate, or purchase one of these Calendars. I have personally seen the effect it has not only on the animals, but on the lives these animals touch. Rob Tackett and Kimber_4