Yesterday the world got a little bit darker. We lost a dear friend, Dr. Kerry Parker, though our friendship was younger than we would’ve liked. Dr. Parker, affectionately knowing as “P” left this world yesterday afternoon. She was the lead Veterinarian and spay & neuter master for Soul Dog Rescue. I spent many weekends volunteering alongside her in a small surgical room as she tirelessly worked to sterilize the animals of the day. Parker’s hands saved the lives of countless generations of dogs and cats through proactive measures. She operated on tens of thousands of animals at low cost and by donation clinics across the region. Dr. Parker saved lives. While our relationship was still young, she had an incredible impact on me.
In those cramped quarters with long hours, we shared our blood, sweat, and tears. Literally. It’s a tough job, and Serengeti tips their hat to anyone who has dedicated their lives to animal welfare and rescue.
Dr. Parker welcomed my family, including two teenage sons to accompany us for volunteer weekends. She allowed both of them to independently watch her perform surgery and help transfer post-op patients. She wanted people to see how routine and safe it was, often stating “There’s no excuse to not have this done”. My favorite memory of her will always be our last family clinic; In a rushed transfer from the operating table to the recovery area, I accidentally knocked an organ off the table. Dr. Parker walked around with a testicle on her shoe for 45 minutes just so she could tell my boys I was a ball dropper. We still laugh to the point of tears remembering that moment.
Parker and I talked all day during those clinics, we learned a lot about each other. The first day she met me I was wearing an Engler Canyon Ranch hat, and she immediately told me that she had always wanted to be a large animal Vet so she could work with horses and that that’s what she had gone to school for. When asked why she didn’t pursue it, she replied that she didn’t want to be killed. She had had a number of encounters with “spoiled brat horses” and owners who wouldn’t or couldn’t control them. “I like them better wild”.
Every weekend we saw each other she would ask questions about our herd, the sanctuary, and our philosophy. She made no secret how badly she wanted to come and see for herself, and often told me that when she retired she would be our Veterinarian and watch over the mustangs. Unfortunately, she never had a chance to see it in person, but she may be here in spirit. She believed in that type of thing.
Yesterday afternoon, not knowing of Dr. Parker’s condition, I made a startling discovery. I had gone to check on a stubborn, small band that had been living in a pasture we didn’t want them in. Despite countless attempts, the Fugees refused to budge from their hidden paradise. I decided to give it another go and was surprised to see more horses on the other side of the fence. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw what appeared to be a baby. I nearly had a heart attack thinking someone had foaled! On closer inspection, it was an even bigger surprise.
It wasn’t a foal, but a pony, or a wannabe mule? Perhaps a mini horse?? Truthfully, we’re not totally sure what this mix is, nor do we know how it got inside our gates, but we do know Dr. Parker is busting a gut right now! She was a believer in energy, spirits, and the afterlife. It may be a coincidence, but this little one was discovered amongst our herd around the same time that P passed. She often told me that she wanted to be a wild horse at our sanctuary, perhaps this is her afterlife. On that note, I’d like to introduce you to our newest (possibly tempory) herd member, Parker. This little one was spotted yesterday in the company of Mo, an incredible coincidence of itself! Mo is largely solitary, rarely seen, and was named by Alex Mays (one of P’s main Vet Tech’s) after an intense and inquisitive introduction led by the senior mustang. To date, Alex’s encounter with Mo has been Mo’s only willing and up close interaction with humans. It also appears that 30-year-old Mo jumped a 5′ fence in order to welcome this newcomer. Today, equine Parker was spotted running in a different pasture with a band known as “the Chestnuts”. This is a truly wild band of geldings (fixed male mustangs) that were captured from Nevada in 2016. They rarely stop and are often only spotted by the trail of dust they leave on the horizon. Anyone who knows P will find great humor in watching this squat little one running with a band of striking, chiseled males as they run towards the sunset.
Dr. Parker and the work of Soul Dog Rescue has been an incredible inspiration to the Serengeti Foundation. So much so that we have been working on firming up our collaboration for 2019 with an exciting new project for several months now. The passing of Dr. Parker will weigh heavy on our hearts, but we will proudly carry on her name with some of her closet Vet Techs and rescue colleagues by our side. We’re sorry to see you go, P, but we’re going to make you proud!
Our deepest condolences to Kerry’s family, friends, and her rescue community. If you would like to make a donation in honor of Dr. Parker, a loved one, or your furry friend please visit www.souldog.org (501c3 nonprofit) and help support their mission.