Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

January 8, 2013

Veteran searches for missing dog

Amy Brocato Pearson
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — A self-described homeless Jacksonville veteran is anxiously awaiting the return of his missing service dog, Fuzzy.

Fuzzy, a black-mouth cur, has been missing since early Saturday afternoon, said her owner, Charlie Booth.

The 1-year-old, golden-colored dog stands about a foot-and-a-half high and has a black spot on her tongue, Booth said.

Booth, who lives behind Cindy's Floral, has had Fuzzy for about nine months. He trained her himself and she's certified as a service animal through Gold Star German Shepherds: All Breed Dog Training & Service Dogs, a company out of Nevada. According to the Americans With Disabilities Act, service dogs are not required to have a federal certification, although state requirements vary from place to place. In Texas, assistance animals must be trained by "organizations generally recognized as reputable and competent by agencies involved in rehabilitation of people with disabilities." Booth has all papers regarding Fuzzy's certification and had just received her vest, designating her as an assistance dog, in the mail on Monday.

"She's my baby, I just want her back," Booth said. "People know me and Fuzzy are together. We go together."

Booth, who suffers from what he describes as partial paralyzation and equilibrium problems, among other things, said Fuzzy helps him get up and down and helps him maintain his balance. On his "lazy days," when standing is too difficult, "she lays in the driveway by me and watches the world go by," he said.

"She helps me mentally and emotionally and physically," he said. She helps him so much, in fact, that the first thing Booth does when he receives his disability check is buy Fuzzy a steak.

Booth has visited the police and the animal shelter in Jacksonville looking for Fuzzy, but doesn't have the financial resources or transportation to launch a larger-scale effort to find his beloved dog.

Booth, who doesn't like to talk about his service in the military, has also sought aid from the local Marine Corps League Det. 1381, confirmed Commandant Chuck Bones.

"Just bring her back," he pleaded. "I don't want to meet you, I don't want to see you, I just want my dog."

If you find Fuzzy, please return her to Booth in the area behind Cindy's Floral on S. Jackson Street or call the Jacksonville Daily Progress at 903-586-2236.