One evening, I received a call from Kennedy’s Animal Clinic about a little dog that someone had just brought in. It was a client of theirs and she had found this poor, pathetic little thing walking very, very slowly down a rural road. Thank God this woman stopped and picked up this sweetheart. This dog was skin and bones and looked like she wasn’t going to live much longer. She had absolutely no energy at all. She was wiped out from her obvious difficult life. She could not walk anymore, she could barely stand. This little girl was extremely weak. She was pretty old and in bad shape. Of course, we had to think about euthanasia. She was arthritic and she had a mammary tumor that was bleeding, which is not a good sign. She was some kind of hunting dog and she only weighed 23 lbs. However, she didn’t seem to be in immediate distress or acute pain. We decided to warm her up, give her some canned food, and start her on some pain medicine. We put her to bed and hoped for the best. She did look pretty content when we left her that night.
The next morning, Florence (as we named her) was still with us. All she wanted to do was sleep. We had to carry her out to potty at first, she couldn’t even walk to the front door. We fed her, kept her clean and let her sleep. Dr. Kennedy checked her over. She aged her to be about 12-13 yrs. old. She had numerous health issues, the most concerning of which was the bleeding mammary. That often means cancer. She was partially blind and had intestinal parasites as well. I don’t know how this precious soul survived out there. She obviously had been on her own for awhile.
We got her into the tub and got her cleaned up. It didn’t take her long to find out that the warm water and the massaging hands were pretty alright! We got her set up in my office and she went right to sleep.
After about 4 days or so, Florence was still very lethargic, not really pepping up like she should’ve been by now. We decided to run a blood panel on her and see how her kidneys, liver, etc. were functioning. The results came back and this little girl had an extremely high white cell count-she had a big infection somewhere. She also had a low thyroid issue. We started her on the proper medication and within a couple of days, Florence was walking outside and definitely had more energy and was feeling better.
It was sad becasue now that she was walking around, when we’d get her outside, she would pull towards the highway. She always wanted to go that way. Sometimes, she’d just sit and stare off in the distance. I would just sit down by her, wrap my arms around her and tell her that everything was okay-she was a Chain of Hope dog now.
Florence was a hospice case. Her bleeding mammary tumor was not good, she had cancer. With her age and all she’d been through, we knew we wouldn’t treat her. She just needed a quiet home where she could live out the rest of her months in comfort, surrounded with love.
Dr. O’Donnell works part-time at Kennedy’s Animal Clinic. I don’t know if you remember Red, a little cattle dog that we had that lost her life to cancer. Dr. O’Donnell’s parents actually were the ones that fostered Red and provided an incredible hospice home for her. Her story can be found here:
Dr. O’Donnell’s parents also are the ones that took Gracie into their home. You might remember Gracie was inside of a house whose owner had gone into the hospital. Chain of Hope received a call about the fact that no one was tending to the dogs here. We went over for 5 days taking care of the outside dog, while trying to determine what was happening to the owner, etc. We didn’t even know until the 5th day, that Gracie was inside this house. I went by to feed the outside dog one day and I heard Gracie crying in a far upstairs window. Her story can be found here:
Look how Gracie is doing now!
Tom and Kathy are the best! They have given comfort and love to a couple of our special kids over the last year and we appreciate that more that they could know. It takes very special people to care for the older and hospice dogs. You know you’re facing loss sooner than you’d like to think, but what you’ve given these dogs in return is immeasurable.
It was coming up on Thanksgiving and I asked Dr. O’Donnell if she thought her parents would take Florence home for a few days over the holiday and give her a break from Chain of Hope. They agreed and Florence went home with them. Guess what? She isn’t coming back! She is so content at Tom and Kathy’s house. Florence still sleeps a lot, but she is so happy and loved. Now, Tom and Kathy call their home “the retirement home”. Look at Florence now!
This is why we do what we do. Thank you for supporting us in our critical work.