What happens when you mix a unique portrait of a Chihuahua, a second grader with a huge heart, and a Kent City veteran? You get a heartwarming story that left few with dry eyes.
River Botten, a second grader at Fremont Christian School, loves Chihuahuas, mainly because her aunt, Natacha Valmont, currently has three, two of which she adopted through Bellwether Harbor.
The pair attended a reception at the NCCA Artsplace where paintings of dogs and cats that were adopted through Bellwether Harbor were displayed, and also featured on their annual calendar. River loved the portrait of Coco, a cute Chihuahua mix, and asked her aunt to purchase it.
When River found out that a veteran adopted Coco, she asked her aunt to contact Bellwether to see if she could give the portrait to the vet, and thank him for his service.
River made a thank you card that said: “I bought this picture of Coco and I thought you would like it. Also, I want to thank you for fighting bad guys for our country so we can have freedom.”
The exchanged happened on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, just a week after Veterans Day.
Irv Byxbe, and his wife, Marci, arrived at Bellwether Harbor Animal Shelter in Fremont with Coco, and flowers for River. He explained how much the picture meant to him and why Coco is a big piece of their family.
“When I first met Coco at Bellwether
, I picked him up, he cuddled with me, and I knew he was the one,” Irv said as he petted Coco. “Coco keeps me calm. I have a disease from being a veteran. Whenever I come home, he gets excited to see me and rolls around and is cute to watch. I find comfort when Coco is in my lap, Coco keeps me calm,” Irv said.
He further explained that he wouldn’t have a dog if it weren’t for the K9 Camo Companions, a nonprofit based in Sparta, whose goal is to give back to Veterans who served in the United States military by matching them with a companion dog that is rescued and trained under the Canine Good Citizenship (CGC) standards.
K9 Camo Companions paid for Coco’s adoption fee for Coco, and pays for all of Coco’s needs.
“I wanted to give this (picture) to you because you served our country and gave us freedom,” River told Irv. “It was an honor to serve you, and my country,” Irv replied.