It takes a special kind of heart to give up an old dog when you can no longer take care of him, and an equally special kind of heart to take one in when you know that her time is short. This is a story about both kinds of people.
A man nearing his 100th birthday surrendered his beloved, aging dog when he could no longer care for him. That must have been one of the more difficult things the elderly man had to face, but it was the right thing to do.
Kay and Brad Jones are no strangers to raising dogs. In fact, they've raised 13 puppies for Canine Companions for Independence, an organization that provides assistance dogs free of charge to disabled people. But when Kay saw a post online that showed an old dog in need of hospice care for the last days of his golden years, her heart responded. Kay knew her heart would break when the old yellow labrador crossed the rainbow bridge, but it couldn't hurt more than knowing that he needed her, right then.
Kay and Brad took in the old fellow they named Beau for his beautiful spirit. “He was severely emaciated, had some kind of trauma that made it almost impossible for him to walk anymore and he was mostly blind. I see sad stories every day on my timeline, but there was something about this old guy that just grabbed my heart and wouldn’t let go,” Kay related. After he crossed the Rainbow Bridge and her heart had time to heal, she knew that she wanted to help another aging dog know love and care in its last days.
Then Mary Lou came into their lives. Her old owner, himself in his last days, surrendered her in bad shape. She was plagued by an abundance of health issues. She was severely arthritic, complicated by nails so long they curled under her feet, causing her to walk on the backs of her legs. A subluxated patella (slipped knee) on one side and a partially torn ligament on the other caused even more discomfort.
Kay explained, “It was a wonder she was walking at all! She had a terrible fungal skin infection that caused her to go bald on her back end and tail as well as incessant itching and chewing. She was so miserable all she did was sleep all day long. She has several hematomas in both ears as a result of years of untreated ear infections." Kay and Brad didn't want the old girl to be uncomfortable for the rest of her life, so they enlisted the help of a vet. Estimated to be 14 or 15 years old, they didn't expect much from her.
Although they really thought she'd spend most of her time sleeping in the warm, soft bed they gave her, Mary Lou had other plans. With improvements in her health and obviously feeling better, she not only trotted around the yard and danced to see Kay come home from work each day, her foster mom was astounded to see her take off running! “We never have an agenda where these old dogs are concerned. Whether they choose to fade away on a soft bed with a full belly or to fight to come back is entirely up to them," she said. “People tell my husband and me how wonderful we are to give her a home for her final days, but the truth is we are the lucky ones. Mary Lou teaches us every day how important it is to let go of bad stuff and revel in life’s simple pleasures. Old dogs are good for our souls and we wouldn’t miss a minute of it."
Does this story move your heart like it does mine? Thank goodness for people like Brad and Kay Jones. Perhaps you might be willing to open your home to an aging dog who just needs some love and care in its final days, months, or even years. Contact a rescue group or shelter near you to see if you can make a difference in one old soul before he or she makes the Rainbow Connection!