Report from Louisiana: Remembering Braveheart 2013-2019

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Report from Louisiana: Remembering Braveheart 2013-2019

By: Pat Austin

SHREVE­PORT – I’ve never been to a funeral for a dog before, but yes­ter­day I attended a memo­r­ial ser­vice for five-​year old Brave­heart. It was heartbreaking.

I have been writ­ing about this dog since 2013; I posted a cou­ple of those on this blog.

I know some of you are think­ing: a dog? Seriously?

Stay with me for a minute.

Quick back­story: August, 2013, Louisiana swel­ter­ing, humid,
heat. Three-​month old Brave­heart was
found aban­doned in a metal stor­age build­ing, chained to an engine block,
moments from death. The prop­erty owner had come to repos­sess the prop­erty after
the ten­ant failed to pay rent. She found the dog, thought he was dead, and she
and her hus­band got shov­els to bury him. Then he blinked his eyes.

Brave was res­cued, much drama ensued as to whether or not he was “prop­erty” and should stay at Ani­mal Con­trol, or at a vet. Long story short, the man who aban­doned Brave­heart was tried and found guilty of Sim­ple Ani­mal Cruelty.

The entire com­mu­nity ral­lied around this dog; fought for
this dog. This lit­tle dog brought so many
peo­ple across the coun­try together in one voice against ani­mal abuse.

Brave­heart has his own Face­book page with over 24,000 fol­low­ers. The page has been a pos­i­tive place for change in our per­cep­tion of ani­mals. No neg­a­tiv­ity allowed. The page is fol­lowed by peo­ple all over the world.

In 2015, Brave was fit­ted with his own tuxedo and served as Grand Mar­shall for the Barkus and Meoux Mardi Gras parade. He looked pretty sharp, too, and he loved every minute!

He recov­ered from his early abuse and went on to become a ther­apy
dog; he passed his Ther­apy Dogs Inter­na­tional test (a very dif­fi­cult test). He
went to schools and helped edu­cate young chil­dren about the care of ani­mals. He
attended res­cue and adop­tion events. He helped look for lost dogs. But most of
all, Brave was a com­pan­ion pet for the Spataro fam­ily: Bo, Ronda, and their
three boys.

Last week when I got the news that Brave was gone, I cried.
I cried more for this dog than for some peo­ple I have known. Brave had not been feel­ing well and so dur­ing
an exploratory surgery it was dis­cov­ered that he had advanced can­cer. The
fam­ily made the dif­fi­cult deci­sion to let him go.

It’s just a dog,” some­one said dur­ing the trial.

No. Brave­heart was so
much more than that. This lit­tle dog because a sym­bol of hope and recov­ery. A
sym­bol for how we need to be bet­ter, do bet­ter.
Brave­heart loved uncon­di­tion­ally; he had a smile that would light up the
world. He knew he had, as Bo said, “gone
to the edge, looked over, and decided to come back to us.” He was beloved by peo­ple who sent him
blan­kets, toys, leashes, and spe­cially designed art work.

His life has impacted so many peo­ple; he has lit­er­ally changed lives for the bet­ter. I know this to be fact. We have all learned some­thing from this sweet lit­tle dog. Don’t judge a book by its cover; love uncon­di­tion­ally. Trust peo­ple – well, some peo­ple. Believe in sec­ond chances.

Be Brave.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreve­port and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cam­mie Henry and her Cir­cle at Mel­rose Plan­ta­tion. Fol­low her on Insta­gram @patbecker25 and Twit­ter paustin110.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I’ve never been to a funeral for a dog before, but yesterday I attended a memorial service for five-year old Braveheart.  It was heartbreaking.

I have been writing about this dog since 2013; I posted a couple of those on this blog.

I know some of you are thinking: a dog?  Seriously? 

Stay with me for a minute.

Quick backstory: August, 2013, Louisiana sweltering, humid, heat.  Three-month old Braveheart was found abandoned in a metal storage building, chained to an engine block, moments from death. The property owner had come to repossess the property after the tenant failed to pay rent. She found the dog, thought he was dead, and she and her husband got shovels to bury him. Then he blinked his eyes.

Brave was rescued, much drama ensued as to whether or not he was “property” and should stay at Animal Control, or at a vet.  Long story short, the man who abandoned Braveheart was tried and found guilty of Simple Animal Cruelty. 

The entire community rallied around this dog; fought for this dog.  This little dog brought so many people across the country together in one voice against animal abuse.

Braveheart has his own Facebook page with over 24,000 followers. The page has been a positive place for change in our perception of animals. No negativity allowed.  The page is followed by people all over the world.

In 2015, Brave was fitted with his own tuxedo and served as Grand Marshall for the Barkus and Meoux Mardi Gras parade. He looked pretty sharp, too, and he loved every minute!

He recovered from his early abuse and went on to become a therapy dog; he passed his Therapy Dogs International test (a very difficult test). He went to schools and helped educate young children about the care of animals. He attended rescue and adoption events. He helped look for lost dogs. But most of all, Brave was a companion pet for the Spataro family: Bo, Ronda, and their three boys. 

Last week when I got the news that Brave was gone, I cried. I cried more for this dog than for some people I have known.  Brave had not been feeling well and so during an exploratory surgery it was discovered that he had advanced cancer. The family made the difficult decision to let him go.

“It’s just a dog,” someone said during the trial.

No.  Braveheart was so much more than that. This little dog because a symbol of hope and recovery. A symbol for how we need to be better, do better.  Braveheart loved unconditionally; he had a smile that would light up the world.  He knew he had, as Bo said, “gone to the edge, looked over, and decided to come back to us.”  He was beloved by people who sent him blankets, toys, leashes, and specially designed art work.

His life has impacted so many people; he has literally changed lives for the better. I know this to be fact. We have all learned something from this sweet little dog. Don’t judge a book by its cover; love unconditionally.  Trust people – well, some people.  Believe in second chances.

Be Brave.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter paustin110.