Archives for posts with tag: dog rescue

Anyone who has ever lost a beloved fur child knows all too well the pain when they leave us to cross over the rainbow bridge.  They bring so much love and joy to our lives and leave us all too soon.  If you’re very blessed, you have a lifetime of happy memories to cling to once they are gone.  You have a photo album of precious puppy photos (for the purpose of this blog I’ll stick to the canine types, although the felines are no less important members of our families!)  and then many happy memories as they grew older with you and your family.  You can still remember the triumphant feeling of the first time they went potty outside by themselves, sat for a cookie, or maneuvered the stairs by themselves.  As they began to age, they might have slowed down, but they remained faithful companions – always greeting you with a wagging tail at the end of a long day.  Most likely, for as long as you can remember, they were there for you – providing unconditional love.  And once they are gone, there’s an emptiness in your heart that no amount of comforting words – or chocolate ice cream – can repair.

For those of us in rescue, most especially those who bring the grey muzzles into our lives, there are no puppy pictures to cling to, no memories of watching them grow into their feet or first birthdays celebrated.  Our joy with these precious old souls is measured in moments rather than years.  We never knew them as young, energetic, carefree pups – most come to us somewhat broken and battered, but with an amazing spirit and capacity to love and be loved.  They steal our hearts the moment we lay eyes on their sweet white or grey faces, and we rejoice at the slow wag of their tails as they realize they are safe and loved.  Many ask us, “how can you open your heart to these old souls knowing they will leave so soon?” and we answer quite simply, “how can we not?”.

Today I said goodbye to one of the sweetest, most loving grey muzzles that I’ve had the honor to meet and love.  Otis was dumped at a rural high kill shelter, condemned to die simply because he was old and no longer convenient to the people he had loved and trusted his entire life.  My dear friend Mary saved Otis from certain death, and another generous heart, Linda, assisted her with his vetting (which was extensive), promising to transport him from South Carolina to her home in Florida to live out his years if he didn’t find his forever home.  And yet another friend with a courageous heart, Kim, took him into her home as a foster.  We all prayed that Otis would find the loving forever home he deserved.

Several months ago Otis accompanied us on a weekend trip to the beach.   The main purpose of this was to see how he did on the long staircase leading up to the house as he had previously been in one story buildings and there was a family interested in adopting him, but they had a two story home.  The first night he froze when encountering the stairs – Mary and I offered treats, encouragement and cheering, but no go – Otis was petrified and Mary carried him up and down the stairs.  That first night, being the ‘softie’ that I am, I picked him up and placed him on my bed, he seemed unsure at first, but once I climbed in next to him, he snuggled up close, let out a deep happy moan and slept with his head next to my pillow.  We had several happy cuddling moments in the morning before getting out of bed, and then tried the stairs again.  Still no success.  Later that afternoon we tried the stairs again and this time he ventured down, but wouldn’t walk back up.  That night he slept spooned next to me again, his contented sighs lulling me to sleep.  The next morning I took him out to go potty, he went down the stairs and when it was time to walk back up again I didn’t look back, I just started up the stairs (slowly) and little by little, one step at a time, Otis followed.  I swear I could hear the theme song from Rocky when we reached the top step!  He did it!  Otis was so excited, his tail was wagging and he seemed to have a bit of a bounce in his step!  I have tears in my eyes just thinking of that proud and happy moment.

To make a long story short, Otis never did find his forever home.  The prospective adopters were not a good fit and so Otis stayed with his foster mom Kim and lived happily with his foster siblings, Laverne and Shirley, two little Yorkies.

This week, Otis began to noticeably slow down.  I saw him on Monday afternoon and he wasn’t his usual affectionate self, I could tell he was happy to see me but it was as if it required too much energy to even wag his tail or walk across the room to sit by my feet.  Mary took him to the vet and as suspected, his body was beginning to shut down, broken and tired from years of probable neglect.  He was heartworm positive, was going into kidney failure and the vet suspected that cancer had set in.  Otis underwent a battery of tests although none of us really needed to wait for the results, we knew in our hearts that the end was near.

Mary says goodbye to her beloved grey muzzle, Otis

Early this afternoon Mary called me, Otis couldn’t stand up and she knew the time had come.  I grabbed my keys and got in the car to meet her at the vet before they closed for the weekend.  One look at Otis when I saw him in the parking lot and I knew, Otis was ready to go to the rainbow bridge.  He had known 8 months of love and to him it was a lifetime.  All the pain from his past neglect was erased, Otis knew he was loved and treasured as he drew his last breath.  Mary and I sat on the floor, stroking his soft fur as he quietly laid his head down and closed his eyes.  There is something very sacred about being with these amazing souls as they leave this earth.  Yes, it’s sad and painful and many tears are shed, but it’s also an honor to sit with them as they begin their journey to the rainbow bridge.

As Mary and I stood hugging in the parking lot after Otis was gone, it occurred to me that rescuing these precious grey muzzles is much like entering into a marriage.  From the moment we save them, we make the commitment to love, honor and cherish them.  In sickness and in health, through richer and poorer (most often the later in rescue!) – ‘til death do us part.  It is a sacred commitment and one we rescuers take seriously.  It’s an unspoken oath that we will never let one of these beloved souls go to the rainbow bridge alone.  That is our solemn vow and in return they give us unimaginable love and joy – for as long as we are blessed to have them in our lives.

Run free Otis.  You are deeply loved and will live on in our hearts and memories forever.

Many blessings,

Melissa

It takes a courageous heart to love a grey muzzle. This morning as I write this, my heart is aching for my friend Sharon who has loved and recently lost two precious grey muzzles. I, too, know all to well the pain of opening one’s heart to these precious gifts from God, to watch them blossom after years of neglect, only to lose them much too soon. They often come to us with guarded looks of fear, they are hesitant to be loved, some have known love in their former lives only to be condemned to death row in high kill shelters simply because they are old, left to sit for days scared and alone in a cage not understanding why they have been abandoned, others have never known love. I’m not sure what is worse, those that have known the love of a family and then are thrown away so carelessly, or those poor souls who waited patiently throughout their lives waiting for someone to love them in return as they so freely gave their love.

My journey to loving and saving these amazing creatures began the day I saw my beloved Miss Daisy almost four years ago. I didn’t think my heart was ready to love again after just having lost my precious Sophie Bear, a 10 year old ‘chowbador’ to cancer, but one look in Daisy’s eyes and I knew Sophie sent her to me. I’d never adopted an older dog before – the love and pure joy she brought to my life in a very short time is hard to put into words. I could write page after page of the moments we shared together in seven short months and still not be able to adequately express all she gave me, quite simply she filled my heart each and every day. The day that Daisy went to the rainbow bridge was the day I knew my life calling – to love and save as many of these precious souls as possible. The night before she left me, we sat quietly on the couch and Daisy gently put her paw in my lap and stared into my eyes with a love that is hard to describe. After she was gone I realized she was telling me that all was well and to keep my heart open, she had to leave me but she knew she was loved and cherished and that was all that mattered.

Today’s post is dedicated to another very special grey muzzle, Jake and his courageous forever mom, Sharon. Breast cancer survivors are warriors who wear pink, I’m beginning to think that those who open their hearts to a grey muzzle should be known as warriors who wear grey – and wear it courageously! Sharon is one such warrior.

Sweet Jake

Sharon adopted Bella, her first Daisy Dog (a foster dog with Daisy’s Place Retriever Rescue). After fostering Bella for several months, she knew she couldn’t let her go and thus became, what we in rescue lovingly refer to as, a ‘foster failure’. Bella was a big exuberant grey muzzled black Lab mix (the canine equivalent to Mae West) who captured the hearts of all she met! I say ‘was’, because sadly Bella went to the rainbow bridge at the end of last year.

Now Jake on the other hand, was not exuberant by any stretch of the imagination. I first met Jake when he came to us from a small rural shelter with his ‘brother”, a beautiful yellow Lab. Jake was ‘just a big old black dog’, definitely part Labby, most likely mixed with some chow and various other breeds. It was clear that Jake had always lived in his brother’s shadow, he was shy and timid and very slow to warm up to people. Of course, Jake melted my heart immediately. One day a very wealthy lady came to one of our Daisy adoption events and met Jake’s brother, she later called and said she wanted to adopt him and had heard he came into rescue with another dog, (he was in another foster home as we didn’t have any available that would take them both) and that she would adopt him as well. My heart soared thinking that these two sweet old souls would have such a great life together for the rest of their days! And they did, for a short time. They lived on a large estate and were ‘living the good life’ for all intents and purposes. Until the day I got a phone call from someone at our vet’s office telling me that Jake’s adopter wanted to put him down. Apparently one of the staff at Jake’s new home had given bones to the two dogs along with a small dog who resided on the property – and then left them all alone. Anyone who knows dogs, knows that giving dogs (especially large and small together) bones and then leaving them alone is a recipe for disaster.

Jake was blamed for attacking the smaller dog and going after the bone. I was outraged that this had happened and most of all that the adopter had not called me as it is stated in the adoption contract that Daisy Dogs are never to be put to sleep without first contacting the rescue. I immediately went and picked up Jake and this was to be the beginning of the ‘real’ good life for our sweet boy!

After several weeks in a temporary foster home, Jake went to live with Sharon. She was only ‘fostering’ she kept telling me, but of course, we both knew that Jake had found his forever home. Bella welcomed Jake with open paws, and with the love and patience he received from Sharon, Jake began to slowly come out of his shell. It started with a little bounce in his step and over time he began to literally dance with joy whenever he saw his mom! This big old ‘black dog’ had finally found the love he deserved and he was no longer scared or timid – he lived life to the fullest and filled Sharon’s days with love and joy. Jake was finally ‘home’ and he knew the real meaning of the word for several blessed years.

Last Friday Jake jumped out of the back of Sharon’s car after a routine trip to the vet and gave out a small yelp of pain. Sharon took him back to the vet on Saturday morning where he spent much of the day under observation. He was presenting a variety of symptoms and at first the vet thought he might have a spinal injury. He wasn’t eating and was having a hard time standing. Sharon took him home armed with IV fluids and kept a careful watch over the weekend, with our wonderful vet calling and checking in via phone throughout.

Yesterday, just four days after the first indication that there was something wrong with Jake, I was at our vet with one of my grey muzzles, Magnolia, who’s being treated for Lupus. Our vet told me that Sharon was on her way back in with Jake as he still wasn’t doing well. I went out to the parking lot where Jake was sitting in the back of Sharon’s car while they drew blood – I joked about the ‘curbside’ service that he was receiving and Magnolia went up to give him a nose nuzzle. Jake actually stood up to greet Magnolia and I took this as a very good sign. Sharon and I stood there chatting for a bit with the vet techs and she decided to have some xrays done to try and determine the cause of Jake’s discomfort. At that point I had to leave as I was running late for a class and still had to get Magnolia home. I gave Jake a hug and kiss and told him to stop scaring his mom – then I hugged Sharon and told her to call me as soon as she had the xray results. It never dawned on me that this would be the last time I would touch Jake’s soft fur or look into his big beautiful eyes, so filled with love and trust.

An hour later I checked my phone while sitting in class – and there it was, a text from Sharon telling me that the xrays showed a large tumor in Jake’s liver and that he had joined his sister Bella and my beloved Daisy and so many other grey muzzles at the rainbow bridge. My heart filled with sorrow – and anger, anger that he was gone so soon, anger that these amazing creatures wait so long to tell us when something is wrong and yes, anger at myself for leaving. And then I realized that my heart was also filled with gratitude, gratitude for Sharon and all the others who have the courage to love these precious grey muzzles in their golden years – and gratitude to Jake for teaching us all that it’s never too late to open our hearts to love.

Run free dear Jake, although you are gone from this earth, you’ll always live on in our hearts – especially in the heart of your forever and ever mom, Sharon.

many blessings,
Melissa