K-9 Lifesavers: Legacies of Love
In August of 2015, K-9 Lifesavers lost a member of its extended family: Michael Kadow, a Lifesaver who adopted two of our much-loved rescue dogs. Mike, Desiree, and their dogs, Coco and Barney, shared a special bond, and quite a lot of joy and laughter. When Mike died, Desiree and Mike’s family asked those who loved him to honor his memory through donations to a very few organizations, one of which is K-9 Lifesavers. By Thanksgiving, 2015, Mike’s family and friends donated more than $4,000 to K-9 Lifesavers in his memory, and we continue to receive gifts in his name today. But Mike’s legacy of love has had an even larger impact. Since his passing, families of other remarkable people have followed his example and generously included K-9 Lifesavers in their wills, or asked their loved ones to consider donations to our rescue in their memory. One special family has also generously donated funds in memory of a beloved dog who she lost too soon.
K-9 Lifesavers has created this Memorial page in Mike’s honor so that our friends and family, our Lifesavers, can visit and read about the lives of the remarkable people and dogs in whose names K-9 Lifesavers have received donations. If we are blessed in the future to receive the gift of a legacy such as Mike’s, we’ll add the name and story of the person who remembered K-9 Lifesavers in their passing, or in the passing of their beloved dog, and their friends and family, and our own Lifesavers, will be able to donate in their names if they wish.
We are humbled by Mike’s and Desiree’s selfless act of love, and this is the best way we know how to express our gratitude. It’s a small thing in comparison to the legacy of love they leave with us, but through this page, the story of Mike, Desiree, Coco and Barney will never be forgotten.
Make a Lifesavers’ Legacy Donation
You will be able to provide the name of the person or pet you are donating on behalf of during the donation process. Our dedicated K-9 Legacy Volunteer will be in touch after the donation is received.
LIFESAVER’S LEGACY: Genny
In December 2015, one of K-9 Lifesavers’ shelter partners in Georgia, Sweet Onion Animal Protection Society, rescued a small, scared, damaged girl dog who they named Genevieve. She was severely underweight, but not because she was a stray – she was victimized by someone she should have been able to trust. She was starved of food and strangled with a luggage strap around her throat. She was heartworm positive and so emotionally traumatized that she couldn’t accept comfort from anyone, and she wouldn’t eat even though her body demanded food. One of K-9 Lifesavers’ experienced foster families stepped up and offered to take her in to help her heal while our rescue worked to find her a forever home, and so Genevieve made the trip north to Columbia, MD, and to a life unlike anything she’d ever experienced.
Genevieve quickly became Genny, and her foster mom began to devote all her spare time to earning her trust. She figured out that Genny loved turkey – but basically only turkey. Genny was the only dog her foster mom has ever met that would turn down cheese, pizza, burgers, hot dogs, wet food, dog treats, and steak, but would dance on happy feet for slices of turkey lunchmeat. Very gradually, Genny allowed her foster mom closer to her, eventually accepting strokes on her back and the occasional brief embrace, but she continued to maintain a careful distance from everyone for weeks and never fully relaxed into sleep if anyone was awake around her. She was indifferent to her furry siblings as well and didn’t respond to play invitations, preferring to hang back nervously, waiting to go back inside to her safe space. The veterinarians who examined her, both in Georgia and at the local practice in Maryland, believed Genny had likely given birth to at least one litter of puppies, and possibly several. It was very possible that she’d given birth shortly before her abuser tried to strangle her, which meant that in addition to her physical suffering she was also mourning the loss of her puppies. We’ll never know for certain, but it was clear from her behavior around other dogs that she didn’t have any interest in being part of a pack. The only dog she bonded with was a puppy that joined the pack as a foster some months after Genny arrived. Dixie (now Melody) has a sad story of her own, but she was so young that she was already starting to bounce back from her experiences. The only thing she was missing was an older female dog from whom she could seek comfort, and she turned to Genny – and Genny allowed Dixie close. Soon they were inseparable. But that’s not the best part. The best part is that Genny’s foster mom was able to break through to her with those slow, careful, and patient steps she’s known for, and soon the entire K-9 Lifesavers community was able to watch with joy as Genny opened up to the love her foster mom showered on her. She started to put on weight, and her eyes began to shine with life. We saw her leaning into her foster mom in pictures instead of tensing up in fear. We caught glimpses of her emerging personality when she gave her foster mom the side-eye for making her wear flowers on her head. We experienced all these breakthroughs with Genny and her foster mom vicariously through the pictures on Facebook, and celebrated with them as Genny took small steps toward finding her forever family. Although none of us really doubted that she’d already found them with her fosters.
In May, just as Genny was almost healthy enough to start heartworm treatment, Genny suddenly began to lose weight. She started to lose interest even in the turkey she loved, and she started sleeping more often. Her foster mom took her back to the vet only to discover that Genny’s heartworm disease was far, far more advanced than anyone anticipated. By the time they figured it out, it was too late. Genny’s body couldn’t fight any longer. Her foster mom made the ultimate selfless sacrifice and held her while she went to sleep for the last time on May 23, 2016.
Genny lost the battle against the many traumas her small body suffered, but she absolutely won the war against fear. She learned how to trust one person – her foster mom – and with that that one huge step she conquered demons we will never know or understand. She also won the hearts of thousands of people, which is amazing all on its own. For the hundreds of her fans that followed her story every step of the way, she is a hero – an example of how love can triumph over fear. For those of us who work in rescue, her story is proof that there are far more angels fighting for the innocent than there are monsters who would destroy them. Genny’s life started out with a cruel individual, but she passed through the hands of dozens of angels and into the hands of her loving foster mom, who gave Genny her whole heart. Through her, all the rest of us got to know Genny, and we are inspired to do more for dogs just like her. Genny wins.
Donations received in Genny’s name will allow us to pay for the medical costs to treat heartworm positive dogs we rescue. We will also continue to spread awareness of heartworm treatment and prevention. It’s such an easy disease to prevent, and no dog needs to suffer from it. Thank you all for being such a huge and vital rescue community. We are so glad to call you fellow Lifesavers!!
LIFESAVER’S LEGACY: Michael Kadow
Michael Kadow grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, the youngest of a large and loving family. He met his life-long partner, Desiree, in 2004, and in 2007 they moved back to MD and settled. In March, 2009, Mike and Desiree decided to adopt a dog, and reached out to K-9 Lifesavers to meet a few they were interested in. Their adoption coordinator recommended Coco to them because she was a mix of playful and calm, which was exactly what they were looking for, and when Mike met her, the bond was instant. Later that year, Desiree noticed Barney on the K-9 Lifesavers website, and was reminded of a dog from her childhood. They brought Barney home a few days before Christmas but like many rescue dogs, Barney was scared of his new family, so it took him a little while to settle in. All the extra effort was worth it, of course, and now Barney is the family clown – a little mischievous, funny boy who makes everyone laugh.
On August 22, 2015, Mike died. It was sudden and unexpected, and it left the most unimaginable hole in the hearts of all who loved him. When people asked Desiree how they could honor Mike’s memory, she looked at Coco and Barney and thought about how they came into their lives, and asked people to donate to K-9 Lifesavers. Desiree told us “Coco and Barney are the light of our lives, and they brought Mike so much joy. I’m so grateful to K-9 Lifesavers for bringing Coco and Barney to us, and countless smiles, doggie kisses, and love to Mike.”
LIFESAVER’S LEGACY: Al Zarate
Al was born in New London Connecticut in 1936 to an Irish American mother and Filipino father. He got a Ph.D in Sociology from Brown University and taught sociology for several years before joining the National Center for Health Statistics in 1980. Al and his wife Charlotte married in 1980 and settled in Bowie, Maryland in 1981. Al loved to sing and play the guitar and … (continue reading)
LIFESAVER’S LEGACY: Charlotte
Lauren and Nate Wright have always been dog lovers and grew up with wonderful memories of special canine companions. When they decided to adopt a dog together, they found a puppy they liked on K-9 Lifesavers’ website, but after talking to our founder, Barb Newberg, they fell in love with another puppy, Charlotte. Charlotte and her two littermates were rescued from a high-kill shelter … (continue reading)
LIFESAVER’S LEGACY: Rudy
In April 2010, Anne Hazlett adopted a middle-aged chocolate lab from K-9 Lifesavers. Within hours of meeting him, she named this incredibly special dog Rudy. On March 28, 2016, she said goodbye to him after six amazing years together. Rudy was her best friend, her partner in rescue, and her biggest cheerleader.
Rudy was picked up as a stray in eastern Tennessee. Despite being sunburned, thin, and heartworm positive, he was a simply gorgeous animal both on the inside and out. When Rudy’s time in the shelter was growing short, a shelter volunteer sent a plea on his behalf to her rescue network – an email that somehow got to Barb Newburg, the K-9 Lifesavers founder, who was instantly taken with his shelter mugshot. At that time, Anne was fostering regularly for K-9 Lifesavers, and she volunteered to foster him, sight unseen, until he found his forever home. “I still have a vivid picture in my mind of the Friday night that I drove to our boarding partner to pick him up,” she says. “He trotted out of the daycare lobby and I was smitten.” Within two hours, she’d named him Rudy, and the very next day, she went to the adoption event to sign the adoption paperwork. “The connection between Rudy and me was instant and marked the beginning of a relationship in which Rudy loved me more than anything in the world, including himself,” she says. “And, along with countless other people who met him along with the way, I loved him just the same.”
True to his breed, Rudy was like your shadow. He wanted to be right by your side at all times and in the middle of your activity, no matter how mundane. He didn’t need to be entertained – he just wanted to be with you. “If he was with you, he was happy,” Anne says. “His sense of Zen-like contentment had a tremendous calming effect on me and many others. When work would get particularly stressful, a visit from ‘Rude the Dude’ was often a magic answer to put everyone at ease. He would lay at your desk and soak up any extra pets or treats you might have on hand, and worries would just seem to slip away.”
Rudy also had a magical impact on other dogs and, with that gift, he became Anne’s true partner in rescue. Foster pups would come into their home as shy, scared and anxious pups, and ‘steady Eddy’ Rudy would put them right at ease. Within a few days, that same foster would be walking down Pennsylvania Avenue through bus traffic, bikes, strollers, and the like, simply following Rudy’s bomb-proof lead. Beyond his steady presence, Rudy also gave these needy pups the gift of his never-ending patience – tirelessly sharing his bed, rawhides, and momma’s attention without complaint. Like the movie character for which he is named, an undersized football player who fought his way to play for the University of Notre Dame, Rudy seemed to know his job was to help others be successful – and in the context of dog rescue, this meant teaching his many foster brothers and sisters the basic living skills they needed to thrive in a forever home.
Rudy was also the ultimate road warrior. He was up for any adventure, no matter when or where, and lived for road trips. Anne and Rudy made regular treks back to Anne’s original home State of Indiana as if they were simple Sunday drives, and he absolutely lived for traveling to Anne’s family’s lake cottage in western New York. The two of them loved to go to New York in the spring and fall when the crowds were few and the weather was magnificent. They would take long walks each morning where Rudy would follow Anne around off-leash and sniff out everything that the Lake had to offer, hunting especially for any fish parts the fishermen may have left behind for a snack.
In early March, Rudy’s mobility began to change significantly as a result of weakening hips and a calcifying spine, making it hard for him to go for the walks and car rides that he so enjoyed. When he began to fall, and pain meds and acupuncture were no longer keeping him pain free, Anne knew it was time to let her beloved brown boy go. “I knew that keeping him here any longer would be for me,” she says, “and not for him.” Anne knows this was one of the most painful and difficult decisions she may ever make, but she also knows that saying goodbye was the ultimate act of love for a dog who had given all of himself to her in the six years he was part of her family.
Anne’s final message to us and to her beloved Rudy are in her own words:
“To Barb and K-9 Lifesavers, words cannot express my gratitude for helping a dog who had such an impact on my life and the lives of many others who he touched, human and canine. On the exhausting days that will come in rescue, I hope Rudy’s life will be an inspiration and source of encouragement – as that next dog you are helping may very well be the next Rudy.
Rudy, you have left my life but you will never leave my heart. May you run free and play with the angels, especially all of the rescue dogs, until we meet again.”