"Uncle" Parker with Lottie & Olli
Parker is one of my all-time favorite employees. He looked a bit rough, sort of like a moonshiner or pulpwood logger, but he was affable, reliable, and trustworthy, and the dogs loved him. We began calling him "Uncle Parker."
Parker came to us from Austin, Texas, where he had worked for Apple. For years he had dealt with multiple serious health problems including surgeries gone bad, and was living with significant physical limitations and a lot of pain. But he, with the help from a few people in our community, found new doctors and underwent surgery that helped him begin to improve. Having weighed far more than 300 pounds, Parker lost almost a hundred.
Often I would be off-property training dogs. I'd return to find Parker sitting at the picnic table in the middle of our largest play yard with dogs of every size, breed, and shape crawling all over him. They seemed to prefer to be near him than to run around with their friends. One time I pulled up to the gate to see him lying on his back with at least a half dozen dogs standing atop him licking his face.
Because of lack of career opportunities in our town, Parker eventually decided to return to Austin, but I have not forgotten him. I am so proud for him and the physical obstacles he has overcome, and every time I think of him, I smile. Why? Because the thought of Parker continues to inspire me to, no matter my circumstances, keep on keeping on.