(1996 – 2013)
Last night (October 14th, 2013) Chrissy-fur left me. His little heart grew too big and it was time to let him rest. I have always made it a point to keep blogging and Facebook fun and light and not post sad stories or share photos of animals in desperate need (those of us who care, already know their plight and those who don’t care, will not change their mind over a sad photo – social networks should be fun, not depressing). So in honor of Chrissy-fur, I want to tell his story and hopefully inspire someone to consider adopting an older, senior dog.
6 years ago, I lost my fur-soul mate, Duncan, suddenly, to cancer. I was in the middle of relocating and had no plan to bring another dog into my life right away. A client asked me to temperament test a dog at the city shelter. Reluctantly, I agreed (I hate the pound and can’t go there, but I did). The dog turned out to not be a good fit for my client and her family, but while I was there, I noticed a little male dog with a gash on his head in a run with a group of females. I asked why he was on the girl’s side of the aisle and the volunteer told me he was getting beat up by the big males over food. She also said, That’s Christopher…he’s red tagged to be euthanized on Monday morning.
Then she insisted he needed a playtime and asked if I would come with her to the yard. I was seriously against interacting with this little old dog; she told me he was 12-years-old and had been back and forth to the shelter SEVEN TIMES throughout his life, both picked up repeatedly from the streets and turned in by past adopters (he was micro chipped so they knew exactly who he was each time). She said he had been in nearly every Los Angeles shelter at least once throughout his then, 12 years of life.
Outside in the play yard, Christopher mostly ignored me. He peed on anything he could lift his leg to and occasionally ran by me, wagging his tail and darting off again, before I could reach for him. His eyes had a slight blue haze from age, but he was a trooper, stomping around and kicking up dirt. When his playtime was over, she asked if I would be interested in taking him home. I told her I had just lost my dog and was relocating my home and business…it wasn’t a good time and no. I watched her put him back in his cage and his demeanor changed again, back to a forlorn, demure sulking. She re-clipped his name card with the big red euthanasia dot back on the cage and I left the shelter. It was Saturday afternoon.
|A rescue cat and temporary foster friend
Monday morning, I woke much earlier than usual. It was 6:30am in a new, empty house and I couldn’t stop thinking about that little dog who would be taking his last breath in just 90 minutes or so. Having worked in rescue and rehab for years, I had the back line phone number for the shelter. Everything in me said DON’T DO IT! This isn’t the time to take on a new dog. Regardless, I picked up the phone and called that back line.
You have a dog named Christopher scheduled for euthanasia this morning. STOP! I’ll be there by 8 to take him. The man on the phone was so happy and I remember thinking it strange that a shelter employee who dealt with euthanasia on a daily basis would be so happy for this little old dog, far past his prime, who had lived his life in and out of shelters, endlessly. Having just moved, I was pretty far away from the shelter, so the ride gave plenty of time for me to tell myself I was an idiot and going to be sorry, but I forged ahead and arrived just as the doors were opened. They had bathed Christopher and had him ready and waiting for me.
|Oh please let that peanut butter drip!
On the car ride home, completely ill prepared, Christopher, now Christo-fur, or Chrissy-fur (whichever you prefer) rode loose in the car. I chose to take Sepulveda Blvd back over the hill and for those who don’t know, there is a great length of the boulevard that snakes down a steep mountain, curving and spiraling dangerously. Christo-fur decided this was fun and bounced around the car like a ricocheting bullet eventually landing between my back and the seat with me navigating the curves and pinned by my seat belt I thought we would never make it home and wondered if this dog was really as old as they claimed!
At home, there was no instant gratification. Christo-fur didn’t love me immediately and he ignored every command I gave him. He chased the cat, chased the squirrels, refused to come when called and wouldn’t eat dog food to save his life, but over the next few months he began to feel permanence and security and somehow he came to understand he would never see a shelter again…he had finally found his forever home where someone cared that the gates were latched and doors closed tight, and gaps in the fences, sealed.
Christopher never barked. He never chewed furniture or shoes, or pens. He was never sick; never cost me a dime in veterinary care. He raised more than a dozen foster children, some toddlers, annoying and rough, yet he never once showed his teeth, snapped, or growled. He gave me 6 years and said thank you every single day in countless ways. He was the poster child and proof that adopting a senior dog is the most selfless and gratifying thing you can do. He didn’t know tricks and never fetched a ball, but he was the easiest, most loyal little guy to ever share my home and life.
So, in honor of Christo-fur, please consider adopting a senior dog from your local shelter. Everyone wants puppies and these older dogs, with their cloudy eyes and missing teeth, have such a small chance of living out their lives at the foot of someone’s bed or ever knowing love and security again. Most senior dogs enter a shelter and never come out alive. Most are quiet and already trained. They sleep most of the day and don’t need long runs or intense play. They say thank you in the simplicity of their upkeep and often have several years left to give. Yes, you get attached and they die. But it’s no easier when you’ve had a dog for 12 or 15 years than it is with a few less, SELFLESS years. Also, when you adopt a senior dog and their time comes to say goodbye, knowing that you gave them the gift of a natural lifespan is the most gratifying sadness you will ever experience. There is an inner peace in letting them go that you do not experience with a dog you’ve raised from puppy-hood.
Thank you Christo-fur for never trying to take Duncan’s place, but for filling a bit of the void I felt without him. Thank you for being so damn easy and funny and even a little naughty from time to time. Thank you for making the end easy, clear and quick, and thank you for allowing me to know that I made a difference and gave you the permanence no one else was willing to give you.
Please consider adopting a senior dog. If you cannot, please make a donation in Christo-fur’s name to (donation button at bottom of link page):
Christo-fur Dominic Vincenzo Hudson
1996 – 2013
You were finally VERY wanted and loved.
You brought so much joy to my life
and will NEVER be forgotten!
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Many have no clue what joy these senior pets bring.
Please share Chrissy-fur’s story and inspire others to adopt in his name.
Help allow his story to make a difference.