In December I received a call from a woman who, along with her family, adopted a lovely little Terrier from Midwest Animal Rescue (MARS). He was estimated to be about 5 or 6 years old. They named him Scruffy.
Scruffy was lucky enough to get his freedom ride last May and was transported to Minnesota from Arkansas. He had a broken pelvis that was left untreated, and broken teeth, perhaps from life on a chain. Six of his teeth had to be pulled. His pelvis couldn’t be fixed, so it healed wrong but Scruffy didn’t let that slow him down. He loved his family and they loved him despite his past.
His mom called me because Scruffy had terrible separation anxiety. His dad joked that he could move a 1000 cinder blocks if needed to because his 10-pound body pushed through gates loaded with sandbags. He cried, paced, pooped, and barked when his parents left for work. So they called me for help.
We started working on building Scruffy’s confidence and decreasing his underlying anxiety. He started going potty outside without adult supervision (he was so scared before). And slowly, Scruffy became less anxious and was able to calm enough to focus on a Kong when his parents left. Then he started playing with toys, and learning basic commands. He became happier and the last time I saw him, he was on the road to a life of non-confinement! That was two weeks ago.
This is a story of how life can change in an instant. Scruffy had to be euthanized last Thursday, two days after a fast-growing mast cell tumor was found in his mouth. It became difficult for him to breath and he was in pain. He literally went from being fine one day, and terminally ill the next.
When his mom called to tearfully tell me that he died, she said “Thank you for helping us make him happier in his last months of life. He loved the training, and his Kongs.” I told her (through shock and tears) “I am so sorry you weren’t able to have him longer, but he knew so much love in the time he had with you and that’s all that matters. It’s what ‘rescue’ is all about”. So I dedicate this to all the rescue dogs out there. We never know how long we will have them, but we can show them love and happiness in whatever time we have with them, and that’s all that matters.
Run free sweet Scruffy. You were loved beyond measure.