I’ll let you decide whether or not this story has a happy ending. I think it does, and if you do, too, maybe that means you have a heart bigger than most.
A year and a half ago, I received a call to go scan a found dog for a microchip. As I drove up the long, lonely, wandering driveway deep in the woods, I thought, how did a dog get lost up here? I was expecting a large dog, so imagine my surprise when I saw a fluffy (well, straggly) little Pomeranian mix. She was curled up on a temporary dog bed on the porch of the caring man who found her. She had no chip (which is all too common), and the man was leaving town the next day, so he couldn’t keep her while we searched for the owners.
I took her home and fostered her, and she became my constant shadow, only wanting love and showing she was a bit concerned that I would leave her, as she had been left before. The vet estimated her age at about 8 to 10 years old, which is definitely a senior but small dogs often live nice long lives – so I liked to think she was really in her prime.
The required 30-day hold went by as we did everything we could to find her owners. Facebook posts, flyers, and as always we filed a found-dog report with Madera County. Nothing. So it was time to find “Roxy” a home. Not an easy task for an older dog, no matter how loveable.
Enter Tenaya “Ty” and Roy Moser of Bass Lake. They had lost their canine companion to old age the previous year, and with their grief finally fading to fond memories, they were open to another dog. They hadn’t specifically considered a senior dog, but when they met Roxy, and when Roxy put her paw onto Roy’s lap, they bonded in that moment. Two days later I got a phone call from Ty. It was music to my ears when I heard, “Karen, we want Roxy.”
Ty and Roy are my neighbors so it was a joy to see Roxy trotting proudly at Roy’s side every day to the mailbox, tail high. The morning they first got her groomed, Ty and Roy rang my doorbell to show me how beautiful she now looked. Ty bought a little doggie-staircase so Roxy could easily get on the couch. (At my house she had to make a little leap and sometimes wasn’t completely successful!). Roxy had two dog beds, one downstairs by the fire, which she loved, and one upstairs next to Roy and Ty’s bed. She would jump in the car to ride with them on errands and, eventually, when I bumped into Roxy on one of her many walks, she politely said hello but was now obviously and completely Roy and Ty’s dog for life. She was loved.
Roy and Ty gave Roxy enough love for a lifetime. Then, suddenly, Roxy became very ill. Roy and Ty rushed her to the vet. At first the prognosis was that she could be saved, but then her organs shut down and they lost her. It had only been a year.
When Ty called to tell me, I couldn’t hold back the tears. My heart was bleeding for Ty and Roy because of their loss. But for Roxy, who unbeknownst to us always only had a year left, I was at peace. She had a wonderful final year. She was loved, and in turn she had found someone to love. Many dogs never even get that final chance.
I call this a happy ending. And you?
I ask this because many people say they can’t take the early heartbreak they know will come with a senior dog or cat. Which makes it sound as if their hearts are so big they just can’t manage the pain. But my thought is that those who adopt senior dogs have hearts bigger than most. So big that they have room for the heartbreak and still always have room left for more love. Their thoughts are not for themselves and their own pain, but for the senior animal and for giving that dog or cat one last chance to find love.
One more bit of happiness to my Roxy story: Ty and Roy just recently told me they will adopt another senior dog. It’s obvious they both have that oversized heart, letting them shower love on something they know is so tenuous. Then sew a patch in their heart, wear the scar proudly and do it again.
If you have a heart as big as Ty and Roy’s, will you think about opening it up to a senior dog? We often don’t know their stories, but we do know they’ve spent their lives searching for their forever families.
Karen Bauer is an Eastern Madera County SPCA volunteer.
How to help
Contact Friends of Madera Animal Shelter on Facebook