Tatum, an 11-year-old Great Pyrenees therapy dog who has helped bring joy to so many during his life, died last week.
Adopted by Canton resident Kathy Burkham in 2003 from the Texas Great Pyrenees Rescue (TGPR), Tatum was trained, tested and passed his test to become a Certified Therapy Dog.
Afterwards he was awarded his “Red Heart” therapy dog tag by Therapy Dogs, Inc., which he wore for almost 10 years.
Tatum and his handler, Kathy Burkam, then joined Heart of Texas Therapy Dogs and during his years, he has visited the Veterans Administration Hospital in Dallas, Doctors Health Care in Garland, South Garland Branch Library – Get Your Paws on a Library Card, Appletree Court in Dallas, Gardens of Richardson in Richardson, and Juliette Fowler in Dallas.
Locally, he has visited Canton Health Care, Heritage Manor, Canton Oaks, Gold Star Assisted Living, the Van Zandt County Library, Grand Saline Public Library, AARP, Wills Point Shiloh Reading Program, Canton Junior High and various church events where his handler spoke to groups on volunteering in both animal rescue and therapy dog work, and the Van Zandt County Justice Center.
Tatum also proudly represented a success story for all rescued dogs, by riding on the Christmas parade float for CLAW (Citizens League for Animal Welfare) for several years.
He appeared on the front cover of the cookbook CLAW published called “No Dogs In the Kitchen.”
Through the years, Tatum was seen and loved by the caring doctors and staff at Canton Veterinary Clinic.
They assisted his handler Kathy in many ways in her rescue work, as well as helping keep Tatum stay in good health for his therapy dog work.
“Tatum and Kathy were the original TD Inc. therapy dog team here in Van Zandt County,” said friend and fellow therapy dog handler Vickie Ragle. “Kathy was instrumental in helping the other three teams here in our county to be tested and certified. GiGi and I would’ve never made it through testing without her guidance. My dog, GiGi, along with Pat Hammond’s dog, Harry, Linda Teel’s dog, Isabella, and Kathy’s other therapy dog, Patton, are all shining examples of CLAW rescues.”
“He (Tatum) will be remembered as such a hero around here in our community,” said Canton ISD teacher Maurita Kindle. “All the kids at school just loved him and that was always the first thing they asked me when they heard about CLAW coming to school……’Is that big white dog gonna be here?’”
“That boy had a heck of a wonderful and productive life,” said Cindy Tuttle, president of SPIN (Saving Great Pyrenees In Need) Rescue. “And to think someone just threw him away years ago.”