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Linda Ann Kennedy with her mastiff, Bruce Lee, near her home in Trinity. Kennedy is a cancer survivor and suffers from a sciatic nerve condition.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Linda Ann Kennedy with her mastiff, Bruce Lee, near her home in Trinity. Kennedy is a cancer survivor and suffers from a sciatic nerve condition.

Bruce Lee helps cancer survivor
And she helps him when
his grand mal seizures strike

TRINITY — Don’t expect karate techniques from this Bruce Lee. He doesn’t have the kicks, blocks or palm strikes from his namesake’s arsenal.

Bruce Lee is a 102-pound English bull mastiff. He’s armed with bear hugs and slobbery kisses.

But his owner, Linda Ann Kennedy, expects and gets much more.

Kennedy, 42, a cancer survivor, lives with her fiancé, David Ward, and Bruce Lee and Cookie, a female border collie mix, at Heritage Estates mobile home park on Alabama 24.

Kennedy also has a sciatic nerve in her left leg that pinches and drops her to the ground as effectively as would the fists of fury that flew in the original Lee’s martial arts films.

When that happens around the yard, on hikes around Wilson Morgan Park or over mountain trails, Bruce Lee is there to help — as long as Kennedy keeps his grand mal seizures under control.

“I needed him as much as he needed me,” Kennedy said. “When I crumble and fall, he won’t go any farther. Sometimes I lock my arm in his harness, and he pulls me up.

“Other times, he’ll cross over me, my feet underneath him. I’ll shimmy out from under him and pull at the same time. And he has come over and sat down next to me. I put my hands on his shoulders, and he stands, helping lift me up.”

She said, “The main thing is, he would not leave me. And when we’re hiking up a hill, all I have to do is lean back, hold onto the leash and he eases me along.”

Animal rescuer

Kennedy, an animal rescuer and rehabilitator, first noticed Bruce Lee’s seizures two years ago, not long after she got him.

“In the beginning, he had only slight jerks, but about three months ago during a two-week period, he lost two teeth to seizures because of the severe muscle jerk in his mouth and his overbite,” she said. “He would have full seizures and jerk uncontrollably. We had tried different things. More than a month ago a vet subscribed phenobarbital for grand mal seizures. He’s been fine since, but he’ll take it for the rest of his life.”

Bruce Lee, who will be 4 on April Fool’s Day, and Cookie, 6, have never slept outside. Kennedy believes they are worth special attention.

“When we hike, I’ll tell Cookie to do a sweep of the area, and she checks for snakes and anything else we need to know about,” Kennedy said. “And Bruce Lee won’t cross water or falling trees unless I’ve cleared them. That shows that the love you put in is the love you get back.”

Always loved by neighborhood children, Bruce Lee was especially a hit with them until his Radio Flyer broke.

Wagon duty

“We’d put as many as three small kids in the wagon,” Kennedy said. “I’d run a lead rope with clips on each end through the tongue of the wagon, connect them to either side of Bruce Lee’s harness, and away we’d go down the road. Once when we didn’t make it around a speed bump, I looked back and the kids were bouncing around. It was like watching a ‘Little Rascals’ movie.”

And inside, Bruce Lee has some peculiar habits. For example, he prefers running water to drink rather than getting it from a regular bowl. Sometimes the toilet bowl is an exception.

“He’ll stand at the bathtub and bark, telling me to turn on the faucet,” Kennedy said. “But there are times he’ll go straight to the toilet for a drink because he knows the water’s fresh. When we’re hiking, we pour water out of a bottle and he catches it.”

Bilingual pooch

In another strange twist, Kennedy, who also speaks Spanish, says both dogs are bilingual.

“I tell them to sit, or sientate, and they mind,” she said. “It’s the same with be quiet. If I say callete, they stop barking.”

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