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Steve Dale's Partner Ricky Featured on Paul Harvey: Stories Touch the Heart


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Paul Harvey, legendary radio broadcaster, was featured on a touching Super Bowl spot about farmers. Harvey, who passed away in 2009, featured me twice on his the Rest of the Story rad io broadcast  Each time, I had no idea in advance that ‘the Paul Harvey treatment’ was coming. When Harvey told a story, it was a story with a beginning a middle and an end, usually poignet. And no one in radio has ever equalled that  mellifluous delivery.

“Do you have any idea what time it is?” This Paul Harvey’s Rest of the Story is about my co-author and companion. Paul Harvey ‘outs me’ on national radio, for millions to hear.

This Paul Harvey’s Rest of the Story about a concert pianist, named Ricky. “Those close enough see the child’s face realized Billy has Down’s syndrome….the Magic of Ricky’s performance brought him back to the world following the death of his father….He called to Ricky ‘I love you. I love you.”

Ricky Dale was quite special. Just by being who he was people back then (pre-YouTube) saw cats a little differently. Who knew a cat could play the piano? Who knew a cat wouldn’t mind (and in fact would enjoy) performing recitals at Petco and PETsMART, or rehearsing as people wandered by  the front of our Chicago condo. Ricky was featured on lots of TV shows, including National Geographic Explorer, PBS: Pets Part of the Family, the Pet Project on Animal Planet, as well as most Chicago TV and radio stations. He was once even on Telemundo. When appearing with Steve King and Johnny Putman on WGN Radio, he jumped onto the console and nearly knocked the 50,000 watt powerhouse off the air.

Ricky demonstrated everything cats can be….everything cats are for the uninitiated. He was smart, fun and funny….and he could learn stuff, and was talented, a regular “meowzart.”

Ricky wasn’t quite three when he was diagnosed with feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This heart disease sounds nasty – and it often is. Many cats die suddenly which is what happened to Ricky less than 2 years later, in 2002. Though I may have been intellectually prepared for the possibility, I was not emotionally prepared.

Frustrated that there was then no cure or treatment for HCM, I began the Ricky Fund with the Winn Feline Foundation….the non-profit solely responsible for providing funds to investigators seeking to learn more about feline health. The Winn Feline Foundation is truly responsible for so much that is known about cats today. Just about 10 years later, we’ve now raised well over six figures. And as a result of work by several researchers, today there’s a simple cheek swab test so breeders can learn if their Maine Coon or Ragdoll cat has a gene defect associated with HCM.

Strictly Personal: I teared up when I again heard Paul Harvey speak about my cat Ricky, it’s been years since I’ve listened to these clips. Ricky may have been a handful, very busy but very loving. I suspect I was a handful for him as well. But we were well suited for one another. And he taught me about what cats’ potential can be. Though our time together was far too short. we had a bond that I will forever cherish. HCM takes many cats’ lives annually. And while the dollars raised have furthered advancements to better understand HCM, and has significantly helped two breeds, there remains no cure or treatment – so still much to achieve.

Until there is that cure or effective treatment, I will continue to pursue making a difference, in Ricky’s name. I hope you consider contributing.

 

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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