A picture has gone viral about an 80-year-old named Ken, who spent over a decade living alone with his little dog Zack, in Hemet, California. When the 16-year-old dog passed away, Ken was heartbroken and lonely. But people were quick to rally around him and show him that he wasn’t on his own.
The elderly Ken lived within a small mobile-home community but kept mainly to himself. His neighbor, Carol Burt, recalls seeing him take walks with Zack.
“I had seen Ken with Zack a couple of times,” she said to MNN. “He’s very quiet. Doesn’t say anything. Just kind of a wave and we went on.”
Unfortunately, that all changed in March 2018 when one evening, another neighbor told Carol that she needed to go see Ken – urgently. She describes showing up to his trailer only to find a distressed Ken “in tears.”
Zack was suffering from multiple illnesses, and Ken didn’t know how to help his poor dog. That is when Ken confessed to Carol that he didn’t have the money to take Zack to a vet. That is when Carol decided to post an appeal on Facebook in order to ask people to help Ken cover the vet bills for his beloved pet.
It wasn’t even an hour of posting the appeal that Carol had received a phone call from Elaine Seamans – founder of the At-Choo Foundation, a rescue that normally focuses on helping animals in shelters – who was offering to help aid Ken’s situation. Elaine was offering to pay Zack’s treatment and told Carol to get him to the vet’s straight away.
Unfortunately, 16-year-old Zack was too sick to survive, and the poor dog didn’t have it in him to fight. Sadly he passed away. Elaine managed to take a picture of Ken saying goodbye to his best friend – and the picture is so heart-breaking.
— MotherNatureNetwork (@MotherNatureNet) April 3, 2018
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, we can relate to that grief,’” Elaine said. “I wanted to send him a card, and I wondered if other people would, too.”
And people did.
They sent him countless cards. There were even people who were offering to send him a lifetime supply of dog food for his next dog. One teacher even had her entire class write cards for Ken.
As Elaine told MNN, “So many people cared who he didn’t know and would never know.”
A grief-stricken Ken was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.
“He was crying for the loss of his dog and also crying because so many people cared who he didn’t know and would never know,” Carol added.
In the weeks following Zack’s passing, Ken himself suffered a heart attack. Luckily, his new friends and his neighbors didn’t abandon him in his hour of need. Carol would visit him daily in the hospital to give him letters, cards, and his mail – as well as bring him home-cooked meals. She even brought in one of her own dogs to help cheer him up.
Aside from that, Carol didn’t forget about Zack and she arranged for a memorial plaque to be built in honor of little Zack. Ken could not believe the amount of love and support he received from total strangers in the weeks following the loss of Zack. It all truly made a difference in his life.
“Thank you all for making this happen,” Carol shared in one of her Facebook posts. “Words cannot describe the gratefulness, the humbleness, the kindness and the love Ken has felt this week from all of you.”
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.
Help Rescue Animals
Provide food and vital supplies to shelter pets at The Animal Rescue Site for free! →