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When Vietnam veteran Kay Lindemann of Puyallup was laid to rest at Tahoma National Cemetery Thursday, almost nobody noticed. No family was on hand, just his constant companion, his beloved dog "Buzzard."
As a young Marine, Lindemann was wounded in Vietnam and spent the rest of his life getting treatment for complications from his injuries. Roncy Roehm runs Canyon Pet Lodge and she remembers the first time she took care of Buzzard.
"We had to pick him up the first time we met him at a car dealership because his "father" had a medical episode," she recalled. His "father," Kay Lindemann, drove around in a Hummer with a place for Buzzard in the back seat. "Kay took Buzzard everywhere with him, in fact one time Kay told me he preferred his dog over people. It was just him and his dog."
Lindemann often needed medical treatment and relied on Roehm for doggie day care.
"I had asked him one time, when he was making frequent trips to the hospital, what would happen to Buzzard if something happened to him (Lindemann) and he had said that he wanted us to take him."
Last spring, Roehm took in the Black Lab-German Shepherd mix for what was supposed to be four days. But Lindemann's social worker called to say Lindemann might not be coming back.
"He did pass away from long-term injuries that he suffered in the war," said Roehm.
With the help of the Veterans Administration, Roehm learned that Lindemann was estranged from his family and that no relative would make it to his service. There was just Buzzard.
"We wanted Buzzard to be at his service and so Buzzard is apparently his only family," said Roehm fighting back tears. So Roehm dressed up Buzzard in a new Red, White and Blue flag-theme bandana and collar. The 21-gun salute upset him, but Roehm and her husband John Bayless were there to calm Buzzard as the honor guard presented the American flag from Lindemann's plain wooden casket.
"I think Buzzard was his whole world." Now that Buzzard has said goodbye, "he'll be moving into our home and be part of our family," Roehm said.