A Sweet Goodbye
"How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." - Winnie the Pooh
One year and four months ago, when we rescued a 17-year-old arthritic, flea-infested senior dog from the euthanasia list of a Chicago shelter, we never could have imagined we would be blessed with her in our lives for so long. We went into that animal control where her family had abandoned her after 17 years,and brought her home, where we figured we would give her the best few weeks of her life. If we were lucky, we would be able to give her the best few months. But Smokey Girl had other plans once she got a taste of the good life!
The amazing thing about saving senior pets is the unabashed gratefulness they show. There is no doubt in any of our minds that these older pets are wiser - they have known family, they have known the comfort of a long-term home, and more often than not, they have known love. To end up in a shelter is heartbreaking for them, and sometimes the gratefulness is as immediate as the car ride out of the shelter to safety. For others, the heartbreak runs deep, and it takes longer to convince them that they are safe and loved. Smokey Girl was a deeply heartbroken girl when we rescued her. We weren't sure we could reach her before it was too late. She was 17 years old, after all. Enter our Sanctuary Mom, Claudia.
Animals are smitten with Claudia, and for good reason - they know a pure heart when they find one. When Smokey Girl found herself with Claudia as her new guardian, we knew it was just a matter of time before that heartbreak began to mend. And watching Smokey become infused with the joy of knowing love and comfort for the first time in many years was a beautiful thing. Claudia showered Smokey Girl with love, and with the help of arthritis medications, orthopedic beds, and nonslip rugs, Smokey Girl found herself enjoying life for the first time in a very long time. Her eyes began to shine and her tail came up, and she began to play. And for the first time in a very long time, she was physically comfortable. She began to trot through the house after Claudia, and trot through the yard with her canine siblings. By the Mutt Mosey, our annual one-mile fundraiser walk, she was strong enough to do the whole walk, and did so pulling Claudia the entire way! She met so many people who made her rescue and care possible, she was quite the superstar and she soaked up every minute. It was a wonderful sight to behold her just smiling in the spotlight.
The past year and four months with Smokey Girl have been such a blessing. She walked in not one, but two Mutt Moseys. She celebrated her 18th birthday with us. She enjoyed the love of her four-legged brother (rescued from the same shelter) also named Smokey. Many of you enjoyed the Smokey's in person and in photos. Smokey Girl taught us all that age truly is just a number. So many of us would give just one more day with the four-legged companions we love so much who have left this world. Smokey Girl had 16 months left on her clock when we rescued her from the euthanasia list that fateful day, and she enjoyed every single one of them.
We do everything we can for the senior pets in our care, but the one thing we simply can't win the battle over is time itself. Smokey Girl's clock wound down, and she quietly left this world in the arms of Claudia, who showed her just how much a senior pet should be loved by their family. We are certain that Smokey Girl knew more love and comfort in the last 16 months than in all of her years prior to coming to Young at Heart. And though we have tears today, we also can smile knowing that Smokey Girl left this world knowing that she was truly loved. Every senior pet should be so lucky.
Thank you to those who donated initially so that we could save this sweet old girl from animal control and thank you to those who support Young at Heart on a regular basis so we can provide the best care for our sweet seniors. Because of you, Smokey Girl got absolutely everything she needed. Thank you to Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice of Chicagoland for allowing Smokey Girl a quiet, stress-free goodbye in the comfort of her own home and for being so wonderful to Smokey Girl and to us. Thank you to Jen for being there for Smokey Girl and Claudia during their entire journey together, and especially when it came time to say goodbye. Most of all, thank you Claudia for opening your heart and your home to Smokey Girl, showing her the amazing power of love, for doing anything and everything to make sure she was happy, and for being her angel here on earth. You are truly an amazing person. Our hearts are with you.
Sweet dreams, Smokey Girl. Thank you for proving to us each and every day that we were blessed with your company that Love Has No Age Limit™. We know you are running through heavenly fields, stopping to sniff for squirrels and snacking at the cookie tree with your tail wagging happily. We will miss you dearly, but will remember you always with a smile.