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Man known for supporting troops loses his best friend, gains support of neighbors

Paul Schroeder is known for walking in Harvey Park with his dog. Makita died peacefully last week but left behind vet bills. Neighbors rallied together to help.

DENVER — If you've ever found yourself in Southwest Denver, perhaps you've seen Paul Schroeder.

He grabs his "remember our veterans" sign each day, leaves his house in the Harvey Park neighborhood and walks along Jewell Avenue.

He has done it for seven years as a public show of patriotism and as a way to lift up his neighbors.

"I do this to give people the opportunity to honk their horn, to see that there are people out there who do care about them," he said.

Had the sign not already grabbed your attention, maybe the fluffy dog did. Schroeder had Makita for 12 years, and they took a walk on that street about three times a day.

Makita died peacefully on Friday after getting sick.

"She passed away in the vet's office, so there was no suffering involved," Kalicia Bowman, his neighbor, said. "But he's suffering."

Kalicia LaFrance Bowman added a new photo.

Bowman said she had never seen Schroeder shed a tear before Makita's death. It inspired her to want to help, as Makita left behind unpaid veterinary bills.

"He paid the veterinarian every dime that he had to try to save his baby girl, but she lost the fight today," Bowman wrote on a donation page she started. "Paul is torn to pieces, and today changed his life. He is now in need of funds to get him thru the rest of the month, and I’d love to raise enough money to buy her ashes from the vet for him to keep."

Within days, the community made it happen.

As of Thursday, Bowman posted on the donation page that the community had raised enough to get Makita's ashes. Schroeder was able to get them in the afternoon thanks to the donations.

He now has his best friend back in his home.

"My memories of her are always going to be sweet," Schroeder said. "Right now it might be quite a bit bitter, but the bitter part will go away and all you'll be left with is the sweet."

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