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://twitter.com/SeaSnork Lynn (Seamonkey)

    I just learned of the loss of Pat.. a loss to the dogs, his friends and co-workers and all of us who knew him through DogTown.
    I can only imagine that every windchime in Angel Canyon sounded in mourning and celebration of Pat and what a scene at the Rainbow Bridge!!
    His calm and kind demeanor and his devotion to the dogs will long be remembered.
    Such a good man; he touched me deeply, even from a distance.

  • Dallas

    I was lucky to have worked with Pat at Dogtown in 2006 and 2007. Two stories come to mind…

    The first is about a Sultan whom Pat took a personal interest in helping. Sultan was a catahoula mix with an abundance of energy that he always seemed to use in the wrong ways. Pat decided Sultan needed a ‘job’ so he built a wagon, fitted is especially for Sultan and put him to work. I got so tickled the first time I watched Pat calmly walking Sultan… who was calmly pulling the wagon. Pat just smiled. So did I, as I am now remembering it.

    The second is about a dog named Cleo who was mostly feral, didn’t like being on a leash, and definitely not a dog to turn your back on without caution. One day, Pat came to my area and said he wanted to try integrating an overly goofy dog named Howard to Cleo’s run. Suffice it to say, it didn’t go well. And, as we were removing Howard from the run, Cleo took the rare opportunity to take advantage of me turning my back on her. She promptly bit me right on my left butt cheek, through my jeans! I had a perfectly round canine tooth sized hole through my jeans pocked and into my butt cheek.

    No matter what situation, what dog, what the problem, Pat had a calming aura and always a unique approach. I’m so sad to know he is no longer with us here on earth, but I’m sure the reception he got in Heaven was fit for royalty.

    Until we meet again Pat…

  • Little Red & Mom

    Pat was the person who helped introduce my 4 dogs to Little Red on the eve of her adoption. He was calm, patient and unflappable. I was a nervous wreak on the verge of tears, so afraid that the dogs wouldn’t get along. Pat showed each of my dogs how to meet Little and the introductions were a success. We sat on the sofa at the BF Cottages, and Pat talked softly while he observed the dogs. He gave me some of his wisdom in succinct bites.

    Do you remember how Pat laughed almost like punctuation? He laughed at the end of his sentences in way that sounded like music.When Pat left that afternoon, he told me everything would go well and I thanked him. I laughed at the end of my sentence. The dogs adjusted beautifully just like Pat said they would.

  • Little Red & Mom

    Pat was the person who helped introduce my 4 dogs to Little Red on the eve of her adoption. He was gentle, kind and unflappable. I was a nervous wreak and on the verge of tears, so fearful that things wouldn’t go well. Pat showed all the dogs how to approach Little and he showed me how to use love and patience to help her adjust. As we sat on the sofa in the Best Friends cottage, Pat talked softly about the dogs and the behaviors he was observing. He gave me some of his wisdom in succinct bites.

    Do you remember how Pat used laughter as punctuation? It was almost like music. At the end of his sentences, he often laughed. I watched him and felt calm and confident when he left. I knew that all the dogs would adjust and live in harmony. Pat told me so and he was always right.

  • Little Red & Mom

    Pat was the person who helped introduce my 4 dogs to Little Red on the eve of her adoption. He was gentle, kind and unflappable. I was a nervous wreak and on the verge of tears, so fearful that things wouldn’t go well. Pat showed all the dogs how to approach Little and he showed me how to use love and patience to help her adjust. As we sat on the sofa in the Best Friends cottage, Pat talked softly about the dogs and the behaviors he was observing. He gave me some of his wisdom in succinct bites.

    Do you remember how Pat used laughter as punctuation? It was almost like music. At the end of his sentences, he often laughed. I watched him and felt calm and confident when he left. I knew that all the dogs would adjust and live in harmony. Pat told me so and he was always right.

  • Rebecca

    When I was asked to foster a little poodle I thought no problem, what could possibly go wrong with a little happy go lucky good nature’d dog..Well given the kind of life that she had before coming home with me was less than unfortunate.Understandably her social skills with people and other dog’s was not positive to say the least..With her new found freedom to be able run around a house came with guarding issues and negative reactions..I asked Pat if he would be able to help me with understanding her issues so I could help her, he actually trained me to train her and gain trust..Here it is 2 1/2 years later and she is my failed foster..I continue to work with her when issues arise but since he did not give up on us my little family is complete.He will be missed..

  • Patti

    I was so very saddened to here of Pat’s passing. I so enjoyed watching him do his “dog” thing on TV. My condolences to everyone who was involved or touched by Pat.

  • Cathy Scott

    I was the recipient of Pat’s help and advice with some of my more difficult Best Friends’ foster dogs over the years. I’ll always remember observing and learning from him on a puppy mill rescue in the Midwest, plus seeing the effects of his tender touch on the Hurricane Katrina dogs in the field. He was a true friend to all creatures great and small, and we, animals and humans alike, are better off for having known him.

  • Diane Sweeney

    Like so many others I watched Dogtown and felt Pat’s warmth and goodness through the television screen. He seemed such a gentle soul. My sympathies to his family and friends. He made such a difference in so very many lives; both animal and human. A true treasure.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=600822951 Mega Deth

    Oh my! So sad about the news. When new season for the Dog Town started,
    we watched thefirst episode with him at BF Headqurter, cos I was
    attending my “how to start an…” course in March 2009. You can’t
    imagine how exciting it was to watch with the man, who was on the TV
    next to you! He had special abilities to reach to dog’s heart, how
    difficult they were. An amazing man.
    He will be dearly missed.. Lina Kaspers

  • Squeakie42

    Like everyone else on this thread, I am so saddened to hear that we — and the world, and especially the shy dogs — have lost Pat. I didn’t see him on DogTown, but I followed his amazing journey with a GA dog who was so, so shy that what Pat did with him, inch by inch, was miraculous. I’ve always thought of him as a special soul, & have been glad that he was here. He will be so missed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=600822951 Mega Deth

    Oh my! Soo sad about the news. When new season for the Dog Town started, we watched thefirst episode with him at BF Headqurter, cos I was attending my “how to start an…” course in March 2009. You can’t imagine how exciting it was to watch with the man, who was on the TV next to you! He had special abilities to reach to dog’s heart, how difficult they were. An amazing man.
    He will be dearly missed…

  • Sam Wike

    Pat was my mentor, my friend and the reason that I am a better person and trainer than I ever would have been without knowing him. His legacy is with the thousands of animals and people he gave the gifts of his insight, his skills, his love and compassion, his knowledge, his humor, his understanding and grace, his simple beliefs and his friendship. My wife, our dogs and I were blessed many times to have him stay with us when he came east and those visits were memorable in so many ways. Rosanne, my wife, cried last night for the loss of a friend who she felt so comfortable with, who she could be herself with, who she so marveled at for all of the great qualities he had. I’ve cried for very selfish reasons: I won’t have Pat in my life anymore. Our world is a little sadder, a little dimmer today and forever for the loss of such an incredible person. The animal kingdom has lost one of its greatest advocates, saviors and friends of all times.

  • donna

    I saw him on Dogtown and hoped one day to actually meet him when I make my trip to volunteer. I was touched by his ability to see into the soul of a dog and help them where they needed. What a blessing his life was, to animals and humans alike!

  • Nancy

    Like several others who have posted, I only knew Pat through the “Dog Town” episodes. I felt his remarkable gifts coming through my TV: I can only imagine how much the dogs felt them face-to-face. I’ll be saying a prayer of thanks tonight for Pat’s time in this world.

  • Patty Bachman

    I saw Pat in the dogtown series and was just amazed at his patience and kindness. The one dog that really shoed this gift for me was Johnny the lab who some people thought could not learn and I remember his comment to this, a dog that could not learn who is healthy does not compute or something like that and I realized that he really understood dogs on a whole new or different level and that in my opinion is a gift from God and I feel that Pat was a gift from God to the troubled dogs that he helped. I know he will be missed by everyone at best friends, employee, volunteers, and supporters, as he was the definition of best friends. I know he has pasted over and is with all the dogs we have lost amd he is telling them how much we miss them and that we can’t wait to see them again. Maybe he was called to the other side because God or some angel has a difficult dog they need help with. Well I know that Pat will be missed by all God Bl.ess you Pat,. Patty

  • Cindy K.

    Never met him but watched him on “Dog Town” and I was so impressed at his gentle demeanor and how he really knew what the dogs were all about. I am deeply saddened that such a wonderful trainer is gone..but boy, are they happy in heaven. I agree, he had many, many dogs and cats waiting for him. Godspeed Mr. Whitacre.

  • Laura

    So sorry to hear of Pat’s passing. I remember him from Dogtown on NatGeo and know he changed many a dogs life for the better. I am sure there were many happy animals in Heaven to greet him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chuck.devito.9 Chuck DeVito

    I had the great pleasure of working for a day with Pat in Tylertown on a most laboriuos and tedious all-day task. Pat’s presence made the job a joy. He was a true friend to all he met, and I am saddend to hear of his passing…

  • Francis

    I was privileged to get to know Pat a bit. He is a really evolved individual who understands animals and people and dedicated his life to bridging the gap. So, so sad.

  • Beth

    The animals _need_ people like Pat. Why should someone who helped so many be taken so soon? I’m so sad for all the animals who would have benefited from his knowledge and his spirit, and now will do without. Feeling sort of heartbroken tonight. Beth in Chicago

  • http://www.facebook.com/kirsten.rose.94 Kirsten Rose

    What a lovely, lovely man. He will be missed by the animals and people alike.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ari.montgomery.7 Ari Montgomery

    I met Pat 2 1/2 years ago while doing my dog training externship at Best Friends. He was an amazing person that left a permanent mark on my heart and my life. Working with him gave me something to strive for when I work with animals. I especially remember one day when he was working with a shy dog and I got to be there. His gentle patience with this dog as he just sat with her was an amazing experience that words will never describe.

    I am so grateful he touched my life, if even for a moment. Rest in Peace, you will be missed.

  • Jenny

    I’ve never met Pat, but the touching tribute video shows me all I need to see to realize he was an incredible human being. Soulful eyes and gentle touch. I’m hoping his pal, Rollie, is hanging in there, too. Godspeed, Pat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jane.besmehn Jane Besmehn

    Thank you, Gregory and Best Friends for that beautiful memorial video and tribute. Any encounters I had with Pat over the years always possessed the same qualities, care, kindness, compassion, listening and his sharing of his wisdom and knowledge. He will truly be missed.