Kathleen Frances Curr was born on April 6, 1959, in Chula Vista, CA. Kathleen’s life was never easy. Childhood, and later spousal, abuse left her with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In 2002, she was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma, an incurable cancer, and given just two years to live. The only bright spot in these diagnoses was that Kathleen qualified to have a therapeutic service dog.
Kathleen rescued her service dog from the Arizona desert, where a breeder abandoned him because, with only three legs, he was considered “disposable.” Tripod James was Kathleen’s treasured companion for eight years.
In 2007, Kathleen and Tripod were featured in the PAWSETTE. The next year, Kathleen volunteered at Fiesta del PAWS, where to her great surprise, Tripod was received the Companion of the Year Award. These honors meant so much to Kathleen, and she spoke of often, always glowing with pride.
Kathleen worked diligently to support herself until her illness made it impossible. After that, she went through a series of ordeals, including homelessness for several months. In September 2012, Kathleen and Tripod were walking to their tent when Tripod was attacked and killed by an unleashed Pit Bull mix. Although Kathleen adopted another service dog, she never really recovered from the loss of her dearest companion, Tripod James.
After that, although Kathleen fought valiantly for her life, her health deteriorated rapidly. She endured a series of hospital stays and nursing home placements, and finally lost her battle on September 27, 2013.
PAWS was a lifeline to Kathleen for over 10 years. Volunteers delivered pet food and walked her new dog when she became unable to do so. She also received caring services from Rachel Women’s Center. I was privileged to have the time and means to advocate for Kathleen during the final year of her life. I experienced an intimate and humbling level of understanding of what PAWS (and other social services) can do. It is so much more than just pet food: it is people who understand the special love between humans and their animals; people who honor the unconditional devotion and friendship that an animal companion brings when the world seems to have turned away; people who look them in the eye with respect when others turn their heads in aversion. Kathleen could never say enough about PAWS. She was so appreciative that she left her life savings – meager, but meaningful – to PAWS.
Volunteers, staff and donors, never doubt for a moment the impact that you have on the most vulnerable among us. Just a few dollars or a friendly smile can mean more to someone than you could ever imagine. I wish every volunteer could have a Kathleen in their life, to experience the difference that our endeavors make. Thank you one and all, from Kathleen, Tripod, and me.
by PAWS San Diego volunteer Donna Warlick