Best Friends Blog
 

Goodbye, Pat

I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of our friend Pat Whitacre yesterday.

Pat was a dog trainer, and so much more, at Best Friends from 2004 until 2012. He was part of the fabric of Dogtown and of the entire organization. He was one of the very visible faces of Best Friends as one of the trainers featured on the “DogTown” television program. There weren’t many people who visited the Sanctuary who didn’t meet Pat, or his sidekick and companion for many of those years, Rollee, when they dropped by Dogtown Headquarters. Pat had a kind word for everyone. He was one of those special individuals for whom compassion is a deeply rooted part of who they are.

Pat changed the lives of thousands of dogs for the better. Pat was thoughtful. Pat was kind. Pat was generous. Pat was uniquely gifted and just his presence seemed to be what some dogs needed. And Pat was always there for those dogs who needed him.

He didn’t only touch the lives of the dogs. He spent many of his lunch hours with shy cats, just lending his calm presence and helping them to trust. His patience had a bit of a legendary quality to it.

Pat was one of those special people who never judged. He had what seemed to be endless time not just for the animals but for people as well. If an adopter had a question, if another organization needed help, if a coworker had a problem with a dog at home, big or small, Pat would listen and lend a hand.

I imagine that there was quite a contingent of dogs and cats from Pat’s personal life, his life at Best Friends, and his work at Pets Alive who had gone before him, waiting to greet him on the other side.

Pat will be missed and remembered.

Help us remember Pat and share your stories or memories in the comments.

 

Gregory Castle
CEO
Best Friends Animal Society

  • http://www.facebook.com/knitterlady Karen Greene

    I saw him on DogTown and thought he was a wonderful person. So sad to hear of his death.

  • Rhonda

    I so enjoyed his lessons with the animals there and was saddened to hear if his passing. The animals in heaven have a new teacher! RIP Pat….

  • Nadine Kirk

    We had the privilege of meeting Pat when we volunteered a few years ago and he was everything and more than we could have hoped for. What a wonderful gift he had with the animals and what a difference he made in the lives of whomever met him. We need more Pat’s in this world, he will be sadly missed but remembered always with joy and a soft smile. RIP Pat, I hope that you are reunited with all your beloved animal and human frienss now.

  • Toni Irwin

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. He was a great dog trainer and he will be missed by many. I just wish I could have met him when I visited Dogtown a few years ago.

  • Jacky Dormaar

    Last night I learned that Pat Whitacre passed away. Of course the first
    thought that crosses ones mind is disbelief “He seemed to healthy when I
    saw him last.” But then the thoughts of course turn to sadness over the
    loss of such a brilliant individual. In telling my husband he wisely
    said that “instead of being sad about his loss be grateful that you had
    the chance to meet him and learn from him”. Pat was always so gracious
    to me when I volunteered at Best Friends. Every time that I saw him I
    would ask what he was up to that day and if I could tag along to observe
    him and more often than not he would oblige me, letting me pick his
    brain for the next few hours. Whenever he had a question and answer
    period for the volunteers I would inevitably show up and monopolize his
    time there too. He was a brilliant man, I learned so much from him
    that has shaped the way that I work with dogs and how I teach people to
    think about training. So, in keeping with my husband’s advice, I asked
    if I could talk about the things that I learned from him, some of which I
    spoke about just two days before in a conversation with my family. As I
    said each anecdote I found that I had a little chuckle as I started,
    thinking of how he said it or how I then said it to someone else. It
    took me a fair while to tell of all the things I learned because each
    time I finished a new memory would pop up to be shared as well. It was a
    wonderful experience and I thank my husband for being there to suggest
    and share it with me. Its amazing how much of an impression an
    individual can have on you in such a relatively short period of time. I
    am very grateful for the chance to have met Pat and will treasure and
    share the things I learned from him where ever possible.

    As it is said so often, “the dead never really leave us, they live
    on, in our hearts”. Thank you Pat Whitacre for your patience with me,
    you made such an impact. May you meet all your loved ones, furry and
    not, over the rainbow bridge.

  • Jacky Dormaar

    Last night I learned that Pat Whitacre passed away. Of course the first
    thought that crosses ones mind is disbelief “He seemed to healthy when I
    saw him last.” But then the thoughts of course turn to sadness over the
    loss of such a brilliant individual. In telling my husband he wisely
    said that “instead of being sad about his loss be grateful that you had
    the chance to meet him and learn from him”. Pat was always so gracious
    to me when I volunteered at Best Friends. Every time that I saw him I
    would ask what he was up to that day and if I could tag along to observe
    him and more often than not he would oblige me, letting me pick his
    brain for the next few hours. Whenever he had a question and answer
    period for the volunteers I would inevitably show up and monopolize his
    time there too. He was a brilliant man, I learned so much from him
    that has shaped the way that I work with dogs and how I teach people to
    think about training. So, in keeping with my husband’s advice, I asked
    if I could talk about the things that I learned from him, some of which I
    spoke about just two days before in a conversation with my family. As I
    said each anecdote I found that I had a little chuckle as I started,
    thinking of how he said it or how I then said it to someone else. It
    took me a fair while to tell of all the things I learned because each
    time I finished a new memory would pop up to be shared as well. It was a
    wonderful experience and I thank my husband for being there to suggest
    and share it with me. Its amazing how much of an impression an
    individual can have on you in such a relatively short period of time. I
    am very grateful for the chance to have met Pat and will treasure and
    share the things I learned from him where ever possible.

    As it is said so often, “the dead never really leave us, they live
    on, in our hearts”. Thank you Pat Whitacre for your patience with me,
    you made such an impact. May you meet all your loved ones, furry and
    not, over the rainbow bridge.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MariEllanLisch Mari Lisch

    Unfortunately, we did not know him personally, but we felt like we did from the “Dogtown” episodes as he was our favorite. I’m sure there was quite a gathering at the Rainbow Bridge waiting to recieve him. RIP Pat Whitacre, you will be missed by 2 and 4 legged alike. Shedding a tear in Wisconsin, but knowing the world is a better place because Pat was here………

    • http://www.facebook.com/gloria.karol.52 Gloria Karol

      Dear Mari,
      I also have known Pat from the “Dogtown: espisodes and I am in total agreement with your sentiments. We all will miss Pat!!!!!!!!

  • Lypscratch

    Sending my deepest condolences. Shedding many tears for the passing of this kind and lovely spirited man. May your grieving be softened by memories of your time together.

  • Grammypen

    Pat was always one of my favorites from the Dogtown TV show. I admired his patience, skill and determination when it came to working with even the most difficult of our four legged friends. RIP Pat.

  • Anonymous

    I only knew this kind man from the Dogtown series, like so many others. Very sad. He left a wonderful legacy of kindness towards animals and people.

  • Shirley Morgan

    We met Pat while volunteering at Best Friends. What a lovely man and such a sweet spirit. Your legacy of love will live on at Best Friends!

  • Erin

    I only knew Pat through the DogTown show, but I always loved watching him interact with the animals in each episode. His kindness and gentleness always shone through, and I could tell he truly loved what he was doing. RIP Pat, so many of us will miss you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/barb.williamson Barbara Williamson

    I will always remember Pat’s technique for socializing dogs to cats which he used so that Newman the Akita mix could be adopted by a family with several cats that adored Newman. That dog ended up having a good relationship with his cats. I asked Pat to teach me the technique for my foster dog who was chasing my cats and it worked beautifully. And sure enough, that dog was adopted into a home with cats. A couple years later I used Pat’s technique with another foster dog who thought harassing cats was great fun, and that dog also learned how to be appropriate with cats and ended up with an amazing family that had a couple of cats. Like Pat, his techique that I came to call “The Hand of God” was gentle, consistent, nonemotional and rewarded good behavior. Pat said the worse punishment for a dog was separation from his person, so he had me put the dog on 6-foot-long leash and anytime the dog started to go after a cat, the dog was magically transported to a bathroom or bedroom for a 2-minute timeout. And every time the dog ignored the cats, he was rewarded with praise and belly rubs. Pat said the key was to be 100 percent consistent, to never raise my voice or show any irritation and because the leash was long, he wouldn’t associate the timeout with me and that the dog would get the idea of which behavior was going to get him what he wanted. Certainly don’t think it would work with dogs with really high prey drive but it was a miracle for my 2 foster dogs who now have incredible familes.

  • Michelle

    I’m so sad to hear about the loss of this kind and peaceful man! I never knew Pat, but I always admired the patience and understanding he showed towards all the animals at DogTown on the TV show. He was one of my favorite trainers. My heart goes out to his family and friends, I cannot imagine the loss they must feel right now, since I didn’t even know the man, and I feel the loss. Rest in peace, Pat. Your legacy is alive in all of those you inspired to be as gentle and patient as yourself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=639820267 Jamie Healy

    Such a sad loss to everyone (human and animal alike) that knew him. Pat, I will never forget all of the time that you spent helping me with Little Red, Beefcake, and Ruthie, and the many other animals I came into contact with at the sanctuary. You were a great man, and you will be sorely missed. I am certain all of the animals and people you have impacted are feeling this void, and I know many of the others were there to greet you at the bridge.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=639820267 Jamie Healy

    Such a sad loss to everyone (human and animal alike) that knew him. Pat, I will never forget all of the time that you spent helping me with Little Red, Beefcake, and Ruthie, and the many other animals I came into contact with at the sanctuary. You were a great man, and you will be sorely missed. I am certain all of the animals and people you have impacted are feeling this void, and I know many of the others were there to greet you at the bridge.

  • John B

    i first “met” Pat through the National Geographic show “DogTown”, and was always amazed at how he was able to communicate with the animals shown. It’s obvious that he had a gift that few people on this earth are given, and he used that gift for great good. From his well known work with the Vick dogs, to the day he pointed the way to one of the DogTown huts out to my wife and I when we got totally turned around at the sanctuary, he has touched many people. I am sure the commotion and joy at the rainbow bridge was big when Pat showed up! Rest in peace Pat, and have fun frolicking with all the pets in heaven. And please send as many angels to help those of us here who still work day in and out to rescue, rehabilitate, and love animals.

  • John B

    i first “met” Pat through the National Geographic show “DogTown”, and was always amazed at how he was able to communicate with the animals shown. It’s obvious that he had a gift that few people on this earth are given, and he used that gift for great good. From his well known work with the Vick dogs, to the day he pointed the way to one of the DogTown huts out to my wife and I when we got totally turned around at the sanctuary, he has touched many people. I am sure the commotion and joy at the rainbow bridge was big when Pat showed up! Rest in peace Pat, and have fun frolicking with all the pets in heaven. And please send as many angels to help those of us here who still work day in and out to rescue, rehabilitate, and love animals.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carole.bradyduport Carole Brady-Duport

    I remember Pat from The Dog Town TV Show. He always seemed to be a kind and gentle soul. He was a special person for sure. The animals could tell and it showed. My condolences to his family and friends (both 2 and 4 legged). He will be missed.

  • Lisa W

    So sorry to hear this news. I knew him only from Dogtown, but his gentle soul shone through the television screen. I can only imagine the many animals who greeted him as he passed over. My condolences to the Best Friends family on the loss of Pat.

  • Sandie

    He was a very special man and will be missed

  • Raye Dene

    So sorry to hear about the loss of Pat Whitacre. I really enjoyed watching him on Dogtown. He seemed liked such a kind and patient person.

  • TooManyDogs

    A loss for the entire Best Friends extended community. His approach to dog training was wise and gentle, and a fine example for all of us. Glad this world had him for as long as it did. May peace be with him and his family.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cathie.myers Cathie Myers

    I had the pleasure and privilege of working with Pat for many years through Best Friends Humane Education programs. Whether he was teaching our workshop participants, interns or visiting groups of young people and adults about dogs, Pat had such a calm, knowledgeable, compassionate presence. He touched so many lives (human and other animals) and we are better having known him. RIP Pat, once all those critters at the bridge have finished giving you kisses…

  • http://www.facebook.com/sherri.fisher.staples Sherri Fisher Staples

    Vaya Con Dios Pat! May you be ever joyful across the Rainbow Bridge. The animals must have been ecstatic to see you. Thank you my friend for touching our hearts.