To Russell: I will never forget you, sweet Russell Schubert. What an interesting, little fella you were. I was lucky to have you in my life for 1 year and 18 days. I hope you knew I loved you every one of those days. And I certainly knew you loved me.
On June 10th, 2015, a little old man beagle came into my life. From the city shelter, Karen had sent me this pitiful picture of him old, weak, and sick, saying she didn’t think he would make it more than a week or two…so I took him into hospice care to get him out of the shelter and give him love and comfort in his last days. That’s what fostering seniors is all about!
When I brought him home, the loud, rasping noise he made when taking breaths made my dogs think he was growling at them, and they were constantly on edge. But they quickly learned that it was just his labored breathing. He struggled for a week or so, and then started developing a little sparkle in his eye. It was a sparkle for me 🙂 He started following me around, and watching every move I made. He was an interesting, little fella, who I never dreamed would make such an impact on my life. I was supposed to make an impact on his!
A few weeks passed and his shelter crud subsided, but the awful breathing sounds lingered. I took him to the vet for xrays and a dental to remove all of his rotten teeth, and the xrays showed an inoperable mass in his throat. When he was in recovery, he had a hard time catching his breath, and during my discussion with the vet, she recommended euthanasia before he woke up completely. She wanted to make sure he wouldn’t suffer.
But I remembered that sparkle in his eyes. He was not ready to go. I truly thought he had more life to live, so I told her to give him a few hours, and let him wake up. I would take him home and give him 48 hours before we decided if he was suffering. He had come so far that I had to give him a chance.
The first day was rough, but he was tough! He started regaining strength and wanting to eat. He started demanding my presence by barking loudly when I would leave a room where he was comfortably resting. I would return to his presence and he would almost smile. He was an interesting, little fella.
He slept in bed with us every night. He would bark for me to put him on the bed, and then several times at night he would bark to get down for a drink of water or to go out to pee. His vocals were piercing and turned into loud beagle howls if my response time was not acceptable. I got a ramp so he could climb in and out of bed whenever he wanted, but amazingly, he still desired to be accompanied each time. He would walk down the ramp, turn around and bark to wake me up, and look over his shoulder until I followed. He was an interesting, little fella.
In the months to come, he kept improving, but the growth in his throat was still causing him to make those loud snoring sounds. He had a healthy appetite and would eat from a spoon because it was hard for him to eat out of a bowl, even if it was raised. He didn’t like his sensitive nose to touch anything. So yes, I spoon-fed him. He had a constant discharge from his nose, and when I wiped it off, he would always try to bite me. And they weren’t love bites. Trimming his nails was about the same anguish for both of us. He would reel his head around snapping in the air like a rabid gator. But I could distract him and trim every one of them.
Whenever I went out of town, he pouted and refused to eat for my husband and petsitter. He would eat for my sister, though, and she was so good to keep him going until I returned.
He would let me pick him up peacefully, but if someone else tried, he would growl and bite. I picked him up often and held him. He relaxed and leaned on me and it was therapeutic for both of us. He would rest his little head on my shoulder and just breathe.
Some days he would sleep from sun up to sun down, and I would think he had passed away on my bed. Then, at night, he came alive and pranced around like a young pup. He got so playful at night. He made me smile a LOT!
Today he went to doggie heaven, but I know he is still with me.
I don’t know what his life was like before. I wonder if he was ever held or loved by someone before I got him. I so hope he was. I hope he had a family who loved him as much as I do. It is such a shame for the seniors to have to wait their whole lives to know true love.
What an interesting, little fella with a sparkle in his eyes – like no other. I was lucky to have him in my life for 1 year and 18 days. I hope he knew I loved him every one of those days. And I certainly knew he loved me.
Debbie Dodd…June 28, 2016 #fosterasenior #saveaseniorlife