Grace and Cleo, Skippy, Ed

Thank you for taking the time to tell your story of Sprite. My dad read it and I just finished reading it. Being a dog lover and a foster parent for a local rescue group, I understand and sympathize with your love and your loss.

Growing up with at least one dog around at all times, when I purchased my first home I knew I wanted a dog. A Shar Pei (Grace) and Siberian Husky (Cleo) came into the family and quickly cemented themselves as family. I decided since I wanted to add another dog to the family, but felt three would be a bit crazy, that I would foster instead. By the way of a three legged Boxer named Skippy, I heard of a large Husky in dire need. He had been caught several times chasing birds in a bird sanctuary in Florida. A neighboring horse ranch owner offered to take him (to avoid being shot), but could only keep him chained in the barn. Since the rescue group had placed Skippy and knew I already had a Husky, they sought my help. A plane ride later, I met Lobo, as he had been called, as he unfolded himself from the very large airline crate. Severely underweight, ear tips bitten off from flies and looking rather raggedy (although clean) his blue eyes beamed as I took him home. After months of cooking him fresh meals to add weight, teaching him to negotiate the stairs and house training, Ed (his new name) was ingrained in my life.

Months turned into years and I decided, after the break up of a long time relationship, that for Valentine’s Day at my new house, I would try fostering again. I contacted Sheltered Paws Dog Rescue, the foster program for our local SPCA and made an appointment to meet two potential foster dogs. Even though our shelter is kept clean, it is always very crowded (17,000+ animals annually) and I simply could not decide which dog would go with me and which would stay behind. Arriving home with two foster dogs in tow, Ed quickly helped them learn the ropes of good behavior and befriended Grace and Cleo. I (with Ed’s help!) have continued to foster both long time residents of our shelter and litters of puppies when needed.

Ed was the neighborhood watch dog and on the few occasions he did escape the yard, he could always be found at the local pub. Ed was such a joy in everyone’s life. He was a gentle giant when we would foster puppies, but was thrilled to escape onto the sofa where he would curl his massive frame into a tiny ball. Summer times were spent at my parent’s, where Ed and Cleo would swim in the pool and revel in shaking all over everyone pool side. Sunny days were our favorite when he would sit regally beside me (the girls and fosters in the back) driving around in my ’51 DeSoto. Evenings he would shoot out of the doggie door when he heard my neighbor in her back yard, as she always had treats for everyone.

Late last winter he seemed to be slowing down and developed an eye ailment that sent us to our vet, Dr. Obert. His eyesight rapidly deteriorated and we were sent to a specialized clinic. There, I received the tragic news that he had a very advanced aggressive form of cancer and was completely blind. The staff at both Dr. Obert’s office and the surgical center were amazing and could not compliment Ed enough on how easy going and loving he was. They estimated we could have as much as six months together, but advised us that it could be much shorter. In the interim, we made modifications around the house to make him safe and more comfortable, particularly with his lack of sight and rapidly loss of energy. I invited my extended family to my house for Mother’s Day, knowing it would be the last time many of them would spend time with Ed. He reveled in the attention and was almost his old self.

Dr. Obert had reassured me that Ed would let me know when it was time, but there was doubt. Is it time? Is it time now?

On Monday, May 21, 2007, Ed let me know it was time and he was ready to go. Dr. Obert made it so painless for Ed that I also had to ask if he was gone. No more swims in the pool, visits to the pub, romps in the snow. He would never again curl up at the foot of the bed on chilly nights or cheer me after a bad day. He is sorely missed. I decided to have him cremated and carefully selected an urn to suit his funny character. My dad graciously offered to pick him up when Dr. Obert called to let us know his urn was ready. I just couldn’t bear to have someone else bring him home for the last time. Tears streaming down my face, I carefully drove to the office and back home, with the urn on my lap. His urn sits on the center of the mantle so he is nearby even now.

Late last summer I offered to foster Ollie, a special needs older Great Dane, in honor of Ed and his ever-giving attitude. I elected to adopt Ollie a few months ago, as we agreed trying to transition him into a new home would be too great for him at this point in his life. Ollie will never replace Ed, and is not as easy-going with the puppies, but his own quirks make life interesting again. Since beginning to foster for Sheltered Paws, 19 adult dogs and 43 puppies have been placed from my home alone. There are times when I question if I can continue to foster, to disrupt the house again, re-adjust to a new personality, commit to the training needed, but then I think of Ed and the life we were able to share because someone saved him from languishing on a chain or worse, death.

Jennifer from OH