Patrick Kittel and Stig: Deployed May 2011
Posted by Jennifer Petre on May 10, 2011
Both Patrick and Stig have a very personal connection to me, even writing this now I am emotional….
Before meeting Patrick, I was already trying to hold down my tears. Upon out first meeting, my mind was focused on Stig, and their introduction. Glad to have a distraction, but this was another emotional one too. Stig lived as part of our family for the past year and half, before entering into the Stiggys Dogs program. Knowing this was what Stig was meant to do (Psychiatric Service Dog). I was still feeling mixed emotions on letting him go. Sitg, who can be ‘finicky’ on who he really likes, had Donna and I wondering how this initial meeting would go….
Patrick and Stig hit it off immediately. The greeting full of energy, butt wiggling and kisses. Donna handed Patrick the leash, that wrapped around him with Stig on the other end. They were attached to each other physically, but not needed. Stig was so focused on Patrick, following his every move. Patrick, very playful, went right into a hide-and-seek game, which is Stig’s favorite! They were jumping over the couch, hiding behind pillows, ending with more butt wiggles and kisses. Donna and I eyes met, full of relief, pride, excitement….
Donna took Patrick and Stig down to the beach for some play time. This first night together was a get to know you night. We just wanted the guys to spend some time with their new dogs, playing and loving them, before we started training the next morning. Stigs favorite thing is to play fetch. The sight of the ball in Patrick’s hand sent Stig over the edge. He was really focused now on him, gladly following him close during the walk to the beach. With a long lead dragging, and certainly not needed, Patrick got the ball ready to throw. He bent down, and Stig followed him. Stig was mimicking Patrick’s body language! And within ½ hours of meeting!!This sent the tears flowing for me…….they were defiantly the perfect pair…
Later that evening we were all sitting around talking and getting ready to play a game. Stig sitting half on the couch and half on Patrick’s leg……..a bad smell filled the room. Donna yells out ‘anal glands’, Patrick looks confused, wondering what is going on…. what does anal glands mean? and what is that smell? Yup, Stig marked Patrick that night, full of excitement he released his anal glands all over him. For those dog owners out there you know what I mean…….Yes, Patrick still came back the next day….
An old friend of Patrick’s, Amy Vitrano, is a Digital Journalist for the News 13. Based in Myrtle Beach, a few hours drive away, Amy got the ‘ok’ to conduct a interview. Amy went through the Military system, granting access to us and her on base. However, 20 miles out off Jacksonville, Amy was denied access. Improvise, Adapt and Overcome! That we did. Thank you Amy and Raphael, for coming to the beach house, interviewing Stiggys Dogs, and Patrick. For filming some spectacular footage of them playing on the beach, for taking an interest and help getting our word out. It was a wonderful afternoon. We look forward to seeing this aired!
The bonding took place from the first minute together for them, and grew every day. You could see the confidence in Patrick, and the trust and respect in Stig. Thursday afternoon I got a text from Patrick asking if Stig could stay the night with him at the Barracks. Until then they have been staying together at the house we were renting, and they weren’t due to spend their first night until the following day. The second I got the text, I knew why. Patrick would be saying good-bye to Delta Company, who was deploying that evening. His friends/brothers were leaving for Afghanistan. ‘Of course’, was my reply.
I couldn’t have asked for a better life for Stig, or a better paring for Patrick. Together through the week they played in the Wolfs Den, learned proper dog introductions, went to Piggly Wiggly, out to Dinner, Starbucks, Chili’s, a local bar…..
Saturday morning before we left, Donna and I went to say our goodbyes. This was so hard, I have been crying all morning already. Stig was already transitioned with Patrick. Even after all of our time together, he was listening solely to Patrick. This was beyond our expectations for them to bond so quickly and strongly.
I hugged Stig so tight, whispering to him how proud I was of him. Stig licking my salty tears. I was going to miss him so much, but he is right where he needs to be. I rubbed his ears, kissed his nose telling him to continue to be a good boy. I hugged Patrick tight, slightly embarrassed for my outburst. There was so much I wanted to say to him then, but I couldn’t. “It is an honor”….was all I managed get out….
I walked back to the car, not being able to turn around and see them. Vision blurred I caught a glimpse out the window as we drove off. Stig smiling leaning in on Patrick….
Donna and I cried….. Happy tears…Sad miss him tears…. tears of accomplishment…..tears of pure pride!