By Michael Ashcraft —
Thomas Locke, the Texas attorney who adopts retired military dogs, needs to be rescued himself.
The Christian Harley rider who can be seen with a cigar in his mouth and his wife on the back of the bike announced in August he’s battling cancer.
“I’m not scared at all, not even a little bit, not even nervous,” he says, shirt off showing a still-chiseled frame at 59 in a video uploaded to his Facebook account. “I have strong faith, so death has never scared me. It doesn’t even annoy me.”
The military veteran went viral on TikTok in May of this year when he had to put down his constant companion, Deny, a military dog that had been classified as “unadoptable” after eight years of hard service sniffing out bombs in Kuwait. Thomas found him for Christmas 2018 in the 21-acre ranch of Mission K9 which tries to finds homes for military assets.
The bond between man and dog challenged the notion of mere earthly affection. Often, Thomas would sleep with the German shepherd, who followed at his heals everywhere around the house. But when his back legs stopped working, Deny had to be put down, and Thomas carried out the painful task Texas style: after a last meal of brisket and sausage.
“I’m ready to turn in my man card,” Thomas said, holding back tears, as he fed Deny from a plate. “This wasn’t supposed to be a cry fest.”
This time, Thomas is NOT crying.
“Cancer affects babies, children and women. It’s a coward disease. I say ‘F you, cancer.’ I’m glad you came and picked on somebody your own size because I’m ready for you.”
Two days before Thomas’ diagnosis changed from curable to terminal, Deny came to him in a dream. He looked young and healthy. The defense attorney wanted to grab and hug him, but he couldn’t. He called Deny, but the noble beast walked away — not disobediently or rejecting.
“It was very comforting,” Thomas messaged God Reports. “I felt like he was letting me know he is there in Heaven and whatever happens, he will walk with me through the valley.”
Thomas, who ditches his lawyer suit for black leather on motorcycle rides, tattooed Psalm 23 on his pectoral: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou are with me. Thy rod and thy staff comfort me.”
While he is facing cancer as he has faced everything in life, with courage, it is still a daunting time for his wife and son. At a recent backyard barbeque, Thomas did a cartwheel with his granddaughter on the lawn.
With the viral Deny video on TikTok, people far and wide reached out to Thomas. Kids painted pictures of the dog and mailed them to him. With each one, Thomas felt the mixture of heart-brokenness and human warmth.
Now for a second time, friends and family are reaching out to him with prayers and cancer-fighting suggestions — from a small private Christian school in Santa Monica to the Midwest and East.
“Thank everybody for their support,” he says grimly. “Fifty-nine years of age. It’s been a hell of a run.”
Thomas says he feels mostly fine, just some nausea. He’s exploring options with his oncologist to beat the devastating disease. Deny’s courage as his life waned inspires Thomas.
“I remember my war dog, Deny, when he was sick, no matter what he got up every day,” Thomas says. “He was such an effing warrior. I kind of know how he felt now. This sh– sucks. I’m tired today, but I’m still heading to court. I got to do justice for my clients. I’m a fight this all the way.
Whatever the outcome, Thomas vows to not go out whimpering. If it comes to it, he’ll go out riding his Harley into the sunset.