A letter from Linda Barton, the Founder and President of the Angels with Paws Foundation.
Angels with Paws is a project of love. When the idea of starting a foundation first touched my heart, I wondered why God wanted me to take on such an important mission. Maybe it was because I’m the daughter of a veteran. Or maybe it’s because I’ve always had a soft spot for dogs in need of a second chance. I choose to believe it’s because of both.
If there was a dog or cat in need of a loving home, they would always find it with us.
My husband, Bob, has always had a special connection with dogs. I have always called him a Dog Whisperer. He has the special gift of making a dog feel safe, loved, and willing to learn.
Over the years, we’ve had several dogs as a part of our family. Some we had for many years, while others, left us far too soon. With our children grown, and families of their own, our four-legged babies now fill our home with love and laughter. We currently have 5 dogs (4 are rescues), and 2 rescue cats.
However, it was the passing of my father that put me on a new path. Being an only child, my father left me a small inheritance. Not one to want a lavish lifestyle, I knew what I would do in honor of my father and his military service. I know in my heart, my dad is thrilled with this plan to give back to his fellow veterans. I also know that my step-mother, Shirley would be pleased. She was always bringing strays home and giving them a life full of love. I remember the time she had 17 rescue cats. She would take them in and nurse them back to health. I don’t believe there was an animal that Shirley didn’t want to befriend. I will never forget the time she tried to talk the squirrels out of a tree. She was so patient as she stood there, holding up her hand with a treat for the squirrel. She kept saying, “come here, come here.” It didn’t matter that the squirrels wouldn’t come to her. She just kept trying. Both of them were full of love for God’s creatures. It was a loss to the world when Shirley left this life so soon. However, I’m sure she was caring for the animals in heaven as she waited for dad to join her.
My father was 94 years-old when he joined our Lord and Shirley in heaven. In the last months of his life, he had such difficulty doing those everyday things we all take for granted. My father was a proud man, and he hated to depend on others for those things he once did for himself. Much to his dismay, he had lost his independence. Just opening a door, or picking something up off the floor, was often impossible for him to do.
As the time of his life steadily came to an end, it got me thinking. What about those in need of a helping hand like my dad? What about those who need someone who will always be there for them, day or night? Someone who will never judge them, and will always provide them with unconditional love.
That’s when it hit me. People don’t always need a helping hand. No, sometimes they just need a loving paw. That was the moment I knew what God wanted me to do. I understood the answer to my question.