“Let it be known that the accompanying flag was flown in the face of the enemy over Camp Dwyer in the Helman Province of Afghanistan on 8 April 2011 in honor of Kim and Tim.”
Captain Dave, a Chaplin in the Navy, presented the flag pictured above to Kim and Tim to show them just how much it meant to him for them to foster his beloved dog Rye. A certificate accompanied the flag, part of which is quoted above. Usually these flags are reserved for close friends and family members yet Captain Dave flew this flag in Kim and Tim’s honor even though he had never met them.
And Rye is just one of the 9 dogs that this couple has fostered since 2010. Kim works on the Navy base at Point Mugo (pronounced Magoo) in California and wanted to somehow give back to the men and woman she saw heading off to war. With that goal in mind Kim began looking for ways to help. By chance Kim saw a reunion story on TV while on a layover at an airport. Once home she googled it and found Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet ©. Since she and her husband Tim love dogs she felt it was a perfect match.
According to Kim, “People are always saying, ‘I want to support our troops’ and this is a real tangible way to see it right in front of you how you’re helping.” She went on to say, “On our end it doesn’t seem like that much of an effort but on their end they’re so thankful.”
Tim and Kim haven’t always had the traditional foster experience. Of the 8 families that they’ve helped in 5 years they’ve only had 2 meet and greets. They’ve taken in dogs that didn’t work out in other homes, dogs that, because of their breed nobody else wanted to foster and last minute emergency placements. They’ve never refused a dog and for GAfSP that’s a Godsend!
Miles was the next dog that Tim and Kim fostered and being a Husky many people didn’t want to take him in. His dad, Petty Officer 1st class, Jamaine, a Navy EAG (Weatherman) who was being deployed to the Middle East for 9 months was a little weary about who would be fostering his baby while he was gone. In fact Jamaine had checked out other places that foster military member’s dogs and he wasn’t happy with any of them, then he found Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet. A meet and greet was set up and Jamaine felt a weight lifted off his shoulders after meeting with Tim, Kim and their dogs.
“They were enthusiastic about even taking my dog and they didn’t know me, they didn’t know my dog.” Still he said, “In the beginning it’s hard. I love my dog tremendously. He’s like my best friend. Like all parents you always have the thought in the back of your mind that I hope he’s okay, I hope nothing happens.” About 2 weeks into his deployment Jamaine received a letter with pictures enclosed and that again put his mind at ease.
“They went above and beyond to keep me informed, even to reach out to me to make sure that I was okay. I was confident that he (Miles) was in good hands after that first letter.”
Each person Kim has fostered for always had the same concern. “When they’re gonna be deployed for 6, 9, 12 months they always ask, ‘Do you think they’re going to remember me?’ and I always tell them. ‘I promise they’re going to remember you.’”
Kim, always thinking of ways to put the dog owners at ease, began to create Facebook pages for each dog. When I asked her what she posts she told me, “I try to be silly and kind of a theme of what’s going on.”
For Christmas Kim tried to have Miles wear a santa hat but since he refused on the grounds of looking stupid she put it on Dakota instead.
One of her most popular Facebook pages is called “The Adventures of Mr. Tyson”. Tyson, an American Bulldog, is a regular at Kim and Tim’s Doggie Inn. His dad, Carl, a Naval Flight Officer, had to travel frequently for a few a few weeks at a time to a training facility so Tyson would go to his home away from home. Carl is now deployed so Tyson is on an extended stay at the Inn.
Tyson is happy to dress up for his dad and anybody else who enjoys checking out his exploits on his Facebook page. During one deployment Kim actually had a family member buy a Michigan University t-shirt for Tyson to wear because his dad is an alumni. Being football season Kim and Tim wanted his dad to know that Tyson was cheering the Wolverines on for him in his absence.
For Jamaine, Miles’ Facebook page meant the world to him. “It was very important…I’m a little choked up by it cause I’m just thinking of all the stuff that happened over there on that deployment and how a friendship and a bond was built just off of watching a dog to what it is now.” (The friendship).
Kim put it this way. “Like I said they truly do become like family.” Besides visiting with Father Dave in New York Kim and Tim have gone camping in the Sierra’s with Jamaine and Miles. She also said, “We have little mini dog reunions.”
To date Kim and Tim have fostered: Rye, Miles, Jessie, Bella, Ranger, Tyson, Ninia, Bronx and Chief. Many of the foster dog visits have over lapped making sure that Kim and Tim’s doggie inn stays full. (They have 3 dogs of their own.) “Our 3 dogs have been very welcoming and thankfully the foster dogs have been just as welcoming of each other.”
I asked Kim if it was ever hard when it came time to give any of the dogs back. “I think the first one Rye, just because it was our first time and I wasn’t really prepared and I knew they were going to be moving back to New York so I might not ever be seeing him again. So I think I remember crying the whole day.”
She needn’t have worried though since upon his return Tim and Kim became good friends with Father Dave and have even vacationed with him. When they visited Father Dave in Buffalo, New York he told me, “As soon as Rye heard her voice he was all over her.”
Still it’s not the same greeting that the dog’s parents get upon their return home. When asked how Rye reacted to seeing him he said, “It was great. He actually stole my marine corp hat. As soon as I got in the door he knocked me down and took the hat and tore it to shreds didn’t you? He still has that hat.” I could tell just how much Rye means to Father Dave because he kept talking to the dog during our interview. Somehow I think Rye understood what he was saying.
Kim admits “You think the dogs are very happy around you playing and stuff, but there’s like a whole other level when they see their mom or dad when they get home. It’s like ‘see ya, thank you’.”
Besides giving the dogs a happy home while their parents are away Kim and Tim make sure that the service members return home is a special one. They have signs made and bring the dog out from behind the house for the reunion. All the while they have a camera ready to capture the joyous occasion.
Some of the military pet parents have done special things for Kim and Tim, although it certainly isn’t necessary or expected.
“Miles’ dad invited us to sail with him on the last leg of their tour on the USS Stennis. We got to ride on the aircraft carrier pulling into Bremerton.”
Another special surprise was when Tyson’s dad, Carl, brought his mom to visit. “His mom came out this summer and he even brought his mom over to meet us and his mom just lost it. She started crying and thanking us for giving her son peace of mind. I met her and then I had to go to work and I looked like crap because I’m all puffy eyed and like darn it I wasn’t going to cry and then you cry.”
Kim and Tim feel honored to be able to help out members of the military in a way that is special to them. And the best part is seeing the reactions of the pet owner when they are reunited with their pet.
Jamiaine; “Coming back it was like getting my child back after being gone so long. They had a banner with welcome home Dad, that was great and then to get my companion back was emotional. I was happy.”
As for his feeling for Kim and Tim? “We have a friendship but I respect them so much above that it’s hard…for me it’s hard to put into words how much I appreciate and adore and respect and admire them for the work they do, for the contributions they make. Even keeping in contact with me to make sure that I’m okay is something that I didn’t expect. I’ve grown to respect and love them as if they’re my family. I’d like to thank Guardian Angels just for building an organization like this because military people are concerned with where their pets are gonna be and how their gonna be taken care of.”
Father Dave shares Jamaine’s sentiments. “I’ve very grateful for what they did. It was wonderful for them to volunteer to do that and it certainly took a load off my mind that I didn’t have to worry about the dog being cared for.” As for Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet? “It’s a great organization, you know I don’t know what I would have done without them.”
Kim and Tim said they will continue to foster dogs as long as there is a need. “Just giving them their peace of mind…it’s a good feeling.”
I’d like to thank Kim and Tim on behalf of Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet for opening their home to so many dogs and for going above and beyond to put each service member’s mind at ease while they are fighting for our freedom!
I’d also like to congratulate them on their 5th anniversary with Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet. November 20th, 2010 was the day that Rye arrived as their first foster dog.
Thank You Kim and Tim!
Article Written by Laurie Sickles