Ivan, Rochester, MI

Hi! I’m Ivan. My story is about timing; how timing is everything.

Throughout my life, all I have wanted is to find a place where I can be accepted for who I am. Having severe anxiety issues especially during thunderstorms, my previous owner decided that he was going to throw in the towel on little ole me. He had given up. Not wanted to be bothered I guess with accepting me for who I am.

That’s how I ended up at the vet’s clinic. Luckily, the vet Dr. Tommy Barkham and vet assistant Courtney Poole refused to give up on me. Dr. Barkham asked my previous owner if he could foster/board me in attempts to find a new forever home for me instead of just putting me to sleep. He agreed (I’m so glad he did!).

So that’s how I evaded my initial fate. However, countless weeks passed and not a single person showed the slightest interest in me…

Dr. Barkham didn’t know what he’d do with me when his buddy Mike stopped in with his black Lab mix Shea for her annual check. Remember I said timing is everything? Mike only takes Shea to the vet’s once or twice a year but that day decided to go to the clinic to see Dr. Barkham, his good friends and former high school wrestling teammate.

They were catching up on old times and Dr. Barkham decided to ask, “Holtz, do you want another dog?”

Mike barely had room for Shea but curious, he asked why. Dr. Barkham went on to tell my story, of how my previous owner had wanted to put me to sleep.

Mike asked him how much time I had and he said until Friday. This was Wednesday afternoon! Mike immediately ask him not to put me down and offered to pay to have me boarded longer. Being the great vet and person that he is, Dr. Barkham says that he wouldn’t — probably just to make Mike not feel bad about not taking me.

Something in Mike’s gut told him to ask more questions about me. Before long, they brought me out to see if Shea and I would get along. Mike thought that if we didn’t then he had tried and done his part.

Well, guess what? We got along and tails were wagging… :-)

Mike asked Dr. Barkham if he could come back the next day and take Shea and I for a walk with his girlfriend Krista (who is also the proud mother of Shea). When he left the clinic, he told himself, “Mike, you know if you come back tomorrow with Krista there is no way you could leave Ivan knowing that by not taking him you are signing his death certificate…”

Krista was excited to hear about me so the plan was set to come see me.

The next day, I was in an outside kennel. As Mike pulled up and got out of his Jeep, I got up and started wagging my tail. Mike looked at me and told me, “You’re coming home with us, bud. Don’t worry. We are going to take care of you.”

That was it! That’s how I got adopted!! :-)

My Dad says I’m a perfect fit to the family. Of course in the beginning Shea was like “Who is this new guy on my turf!” and had to lay down the law a few times but I was understanding and OK with it. I’m just happy to be along for the ride.

I know that if it wasn’t for the help of so many people I wasn’t going to make it out of the week, let alone the year. There is a reason why my Dad took Shea in for her check up that day. There is a reason why Dr. Barkham and Courtney didn’t give up on me. There is a reason why my Mom said we have to do something. Everyone played a part in changing my life for the better.

My coat has filled back in (I lost almost all of my hair from my anxiety) and I sleep under the covers every night. My Dad told me that even though we are constantly working with me on my storm anxiety, he wouldn’t change a thing.

He said that Shea and I have made him a better person and changed his life. You see, my Dad is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan — and someone who has always been “emotional” with high highs and low lows. He told us that he’s fortunate to have us both in his life because he battled plenty of inner demons throughout his journey in life but he knows that regardless of how his day has gone, when he looks up at the top of the stairs he’ll see us with tails wagging, happy to see him.

My Dad says we put a smile on his face everyday.

So that’s the story of how I became a member of TEAM HOLTZ! Thanks for reading!

~ Ivan

Parents: Mike & Krista

Editor’s Note: Mike saw the poster we made of Faith, a beautiful female puppy who was dumped in Houston’s East End Hidalgo park (a dangerous park where animals live and die everyday). She ate out of trash and begged for food from passersby. She lived in rain, in the cold and the heat.

He decided to do something & adopted her. Faith was rescued on April 22, 2013 by a community of Facebook friends who pulled together and guided her to safety. She is now living happily ever after with Shea and Ivan! Check out her video. Thank you, Mike!

Sadly, on December 21, 2013, Ivan crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. He had lung cancer and it spread very quickly; by the time he was diagnosed he only made it another month. His dad had been a wreck leading up to the day he had to let Ivan go. He said, “As hard as it was, it was the right thing to do. My buddy was starting to suffer and it wouldn’t be fair to have him struggle any longer. I just wanted to thank you for the awesome article on Ivan and his story. He crossed over the rainbow bridge peacefully and is now running free of pain with all of the other “monsters”.”

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