America’s Best Tails Contestant: Jeff Kitner, Kirby and Dudley
Jeff Kitner never knew what a best friend a dog could be until rescuing Kirby. Now that Kirby has passed on, Jeff’s love of dogs continues with his new best friend Dudley. Since rescuing Kirby a few years ago, Jeff has also become involved with EARS, a rescue group in the Dallas area. Below is his story about how Kirby changed his life. Jeff and Dudley will appear on this week’s episode of “For the Love of Dogs.”
This story was a $1,000 winner in our “America’s Best Tails” contest, with the proceeds benefitting DFW Rescue Me.
My sister was allergic to dogs, so I grew up in a household of rabbits and goldfish. My wife suggested a dog to complete the household shortly after we married. I was ambivalent but agreed to look at dog adoption. Miriam saw Kirby’s profile on Petfinder. He was a curious fox-like dog identified, probably incorrectly, as a “Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Corgi mix.” His profile said he enjoyed going on walks, snacking on treats, and snuggling – all characteristics which would fit well in our home.
We were unfamiliar with EARS but went to visit Kirby at an adoption event. There, Kirby looked sad and depressed in his crate. But when Kirby and I met for the first time, I knew we would be friends for life. We spent a few minutes walking Kirby around and then put him back in his crate. While we casually looked around at other dogs and talked to volunteers, Kirby was openly staring at us, wondering why we were even looking at anyone else!
The EARS volunteers told us that Kirby was about three and had been heartworm positive. After we left the event (with Kirby still staring at us, wondering why we were leaving him), we submitted the application. We adopted Kirby in November 2007.
Kirby moved in, and it was a perfect match. We were inseparable, going on several walks every day. Whenever I came home from work, he would audibly grunt with excitement. He loved going anywhere in the car and made fast friends with all of the dogs and humans he met. During that time, however, it became clear that Kirby was more of a senior dog. He limped a little, had trouble jumping on furniture, and was easily tired on our walks.
In September 2009, while Kirby and I were out on a short walk, he experienced shortness of breath, and continued to pant very heavily after we returned home. It worsened that night, and we took him to the emergency clinic. He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He passed away a few days later, in the car (one of his favorite places) and in my arms as Miriam drove to the emergency clinic.
Losing Kirby was one of the hardest things I have ever experienced. Although he was an older boy when we adopted him, I know his time with us was the best of his life, and he experienced love like he’d never experienced before.
After Kirby passed, we contacted EARS about adopting another rescue dog. The EARS volunteers were put on the lookout for a Corgi or similar dog. A few weeks later, a volunteer found Dudley (a purebred Welsh Corgi) in the Garland shelter. We took Dudley into our home, and he has been our best friend ever since. We’ve also gotten extensively involved with EARS since 2009. Although we miss Kirby every day, we know that his passing helped bring us to Dudley, and also get us involved more with EARS.