They say as a rescuer that there will some day be “that dog”, the foster that you can never forget. In my case it is two dogs, who were in foster care together at my house at the same time, and were the best of friends. Both had horrific, cruel, abusive, tortured pasts before coming to me. But both were fighters and they learned to love and trust again, in spite of all that had been inflicted on them by humans.
Jeffrey was found in a plastic pet carrier in a field in the blazing hot summer heat of Miami. He was malnourished, covered in urine burns and paralyzed in his back legs. He was so scared he bit everyone.
Chance was tortured by his owners. Literally. He was also paralyzed in his back legs. But he had the added insult of having something tied to his leg so tightly and for so long, the bottom half of the leg died and had to be removed. Later the remainder of the leg would have to be removed as well.
Chance and Jeffrey became the very best of friends. They snuggled and slept together. As you can imagine with such histories and with paralysis, and in Chance’s case even amputation, there were no applications submitted to adopt them. But they were loved and happy. Jeffrey learned to trust enough not to bite people. Both of them learned to be mobile with their paralysis. Honestly, it never slowed either one of them down. Jeffrey learned to use his cart. Chance never really seemed to like his.
But chaos struck my life in the third year the boys were in foster care with me. I lost my house and so they had to be moved. It ripped my heart out to send them to another foster home. And it ripped my heart out again to learn that they had been separated. I knew it was likely as it’s hard to find foster space for two special needs dogs together, but I had hoped.
Jeffrey was adopted almost immediately. I never got to meet or speak to his adoptive mom. She didn’t even know he had a foster mom other than the one that adopted him to her. She sent one update, noting that Jeffrey went on long walks with her daily. That was the only update we’d ever get on him. I have no idea if he is still with her or if he has passed away.
Chance was adopted by a friend of one of the rescue members. Over time Chance’s forever mom and I would become friends. I got to see Facebook updates. Got emails and text messages about him. I even got to visit him and his family a few months ago. When I saw him then he had just overcome a serious illness and it was thought that he might not make it, but he pulled through. So I knew when I saw him that it might be my last time. I tried to hold it all together when I left but cried for days after I returned home, knowing it was the last time I’d see him.
He has lived a full and wonderful life. He is loved – I think he is probably the favorite, but don’t tell the other pups in his home – and he is adored and he is as well cared for as any dog could be. He has lived a long and wonderful life. He is likely 17 years old now, though we can’t know for sure since his age at time of rescue was guesstimated. He got the life I had always hoped he would have. And I got to be part of that life, a gift I could never have imagined I would get.
But today came the email I have always known would come and dreaded with all my heart. Chance is not well. There is no more that can be done for him. It is a combination of symptoms associated with his age and the affects of long time paralysis and the issues that come along with paralysis. His mom says he is not having quality of life any longer so it is time to let him go to the Rainbow Bridge. My head knows this is the best and Chance deserves to be let go. But my heart is scream NOOOOOO at the top of my lungs. Not yet. I’m not ready. But the truth is I’ll never be ready. Chance was a purpose and a focus for me in a time of chaos and turmoil in my life. I know that I rescued him, but really he rescued me as well. Chance and Jeffrey both.
So I will send him off with all my kisses given to him by his mom on my behalf. I will take joy in knowing that I got to see him recently and give him my own kisses. He slept with me each night and spent his days on the couch with me. Another unexpected gift.
Sleep well little buddy. I love you. I’ll see you again some day but this time you will be healthy and whole.