Shirley & Picard
This month VCAS wanted to highlight Vietnam veteran, Shirley Williams, and her new placement pup, Picard. Shirley was a joy to interview and it must become immediately evident to anyone speaking with her that she is a genuine and kind person. Her stories contained a mixture of heartwarming narratives, sorrowful accounts and colorful anecdotes all leading up to her current life with her canine companion, Picard.
Born in the little town of El Dorado, Arkansas, Shirley is a bona fide southern girl. She grew up among her siblings and cousins and recounted stories of her childhood with such clarity, it was almost as if she was describing something that had occurred yesterday. She laughed when she looked back on the time she received an F in her cooking class in school because she did not actually measure out the ingredients despite receiving an A for how well the cake looked. However, it was Shirley’s love for books and expertise in reading that inspired her to pursue a life beyond where she grew up.
Time to Go
Shirley knew there was a big world out there from the novels she read and she was determined to see it all. Discussions about her brother entering the military instilled interest in her to pursue joining the military as well. One day after finishing her shift at KFC, Shirley secretly took the military multi-aptitude test. News of her passing quickly spread and inspired other family members, including her cousin, to go out and join the military as well.
Training was hard, but Shirley said that she had a sergeant who was kind and treated them as their own children. It was ultimately Shirley’s goal to become an administrator in the military. In basic training they wanted to have her cook and perform other tasks, but after proving to her superiors time and time again that she had excellent management and typing skills she became an administrator when she was stationed in Kansas and performed a multitude of tasks on base.
Life After the Military
Shirley left the military after many years of service when she started her family. She moved to Ohio when she got married and returned to school for computer science. Shirley acquired a job at Citibank doing programming and focused on raising her children and getting them through school. She spoke proudly of her children and their talents and also recalled the painful experiences, including the loss of her daughter.
After her husband passed away years later Shirley began focusing on ways to deal with both her physical and mental aches and pains. She turned to things like meditation to distract her mind, but wanted more companionship at home. Shirley had talked about getting the dog, but has been unable to make the leap until VCAS.
Shirley first learned of VCAS at a Central Ohio Stand Down event. A friend encouraged her to visit the VCAS booth and everything fell into place after that. Picard went home with Shirley in July of this year and they have developed a deep and impactful bond. “You were made for me,” Shirley said upon meeting Picard.
Picard, now nicknamed “Cardi B”, loves to play, take baths, practice her training and run errands with Shirley. She got heads to turn when she brought Cardi B into HomeGoods in a shopping cart, which is just one example of the many comical stories about Cardi B that Shirley shared. “You blessed me with that dog,” Shirley said of VCAS pairing her with Picard.
It is heartwarming stories like Shirley and Picard’s that are the reason why VCAS strives to enrich the lives of veterans and dogs through the human-animal bond. Visit here for more information on the VCAS placement process.