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Friday, July 13, 2007

Darcy's Story: When a Foster home becomes a Forever one.... (TISSUE ALERT)

I am posting this with Evelyn's permission. In fact, it was her idea. :) Thank you Evelyn, for allowing me to memorialize Darcy here. This post will make you cry, I'm sure.

Ten months ago, Darcy arrived in my life. Her rescue illustrated how rescue groups can pull together to save a dog. This is, by no means, the first time, nor will it be the last, that rescue groups will cooperate to save a dog. However, Darcy was 12 years old at the time she was saved...and she was a Ridgeback mix. Her story starts off common but it does not end that way.

Darcy was dropped off at a shelter in Texas...several hours from where I live in. I don't remember who contacted who but somehow RRUS was made aware of this senior pup that needed to be re-homed. I agreed to foster her until her forever home could be found. I, as do many rescuers, have a soft spot for the senior pups. Why would someone dump such an old pup, you may ask...and rightly so. The reason listed on the surrender form was that the owner had too many dogs. Darcy was, apparently, her mother's dog at one point. Her mother then gave Darcy to her and she just didn't feel she could handle three dogs (she had two of her own). So...Darcy came to live with me. The majority of the transport was done by Etosha volunteers who picked her up and then handed her off to me.

She went up on the website soon after arriving at my house. She was a wonderful, sweet, even tempered dog. She got along with dogs, cats, children, adults, men, women, birds, etc. She loved to go for walks and car rides. And she was smart. :) She learned how to crate rather quickly and, by the end of her time with, actually preferred to be in her crate at times. She had her quirks, as do all Ridgebacks and Ridgeback mixes. :) As I started to get to know her and her quirks I began to think about her perfect home. I envisioned a home with a retired person/persons who would take her on strolls and visiting. A home where she would be the center of attention. After all, she was 12 years old. She had earned that right. Over the months she was with me, I had three people express an interest in her. For one reason or another none of them worked out. So she continued to stay with me. The following, to me, explains why none of those other homes worked out. She needed me.

On June 16, 2007, Darcy was officially diagnosed with cancer. In the week prior, while staying with a friend, she had started coughing, reduced her food intake (!) and was not as interested in what was going on around her. She still enjoyed her walks though. :) I took her to the vet on June 14, 2007. The vet x-rayed her lungs, which were filled with fluid and had 1, maybe 2, nodules. He told me it was either cancer or a fungal infection. It was determined to be cancer after blood work and several aspirates were done. No signs of a fungal infection were found.

I made the decision to not do chemotherapy with her. By this time Darcy was 13 years old. I could not put her through that. We started her on prednisone in the hopes that it would make her comfortable. And it did, for awhile. She stopped coughing but her appetite never fully recovered. On June 26, 2007, I made the difficult decision to let her go. By this time, she wasn't eating, she couldn't stand on her own and could only walk a short distance before she lost control of her back legs. She had also become incontinent (which horribly embarrassed her). It was time to release her and give her her freedom. The following paragraphs go through her final day.

I made the appointment for late afternoon on the 27th. Yes, there were earlier appointments to be had but I had to work until noon that day and I wanted to spend some time with her before she left me. That afternoon we went to the Park one last time. A friend of mine, Beth, joined us. She has been my friend for years and she loved Darcy. If she had been in a place that would allow dogs, she would have adopted her in a heart beat. So, the three of us went to the park.

The park is fairly large and one part has a lake with a path around it and ducks. It's surrounded by lots of open, grassy area with trees scattered around it. The three of us went and sat down under a tree and spent an hour just enjoying life and talking. At one point, a duck decided to come check us out...up until Darcy sat up and the duck realized that there was a dog there too. She really seemed to enjoy her time out there with us in the fresh air and the sunshine. When the time came, we drove up to the clinic. We arrived a little early and had to sit in the waiting room for a short while.

In the waiting room with us was a gentleman with a young boy holding a Dachshund puppy. (side note: that puppy has got to be one of the cutest things I've ever seen. :)). (I'm pretty certain that they did not speak English so most likely did not know exactly what we were there for). The boy seemed a little afraid of Darcy and stood near his dad. After a short while though, he got brave and came over to an open area near us (still holding the adorable puppy). He set the puppy down on the floor and the puppy, being a puppy, immediately headed straight towards us to check us out. Now, the waiting area is not that big so the puppy didn't have to go very far. He started checking out my shoes and allowed me to pet him (he was very soft by the way!) Then the puppy decided to also check out Darcy. Darcy didn't mind a bit (she always got along well with other dogs she met while in my care). In fact, at one point, she turned her head to look at the puppy and they touched noses. It was very very cute.

The little boy, meanwhile, is near us, watching us and the puppy. I looked at him and asked him if he wanted to pet Darcy. I also mimed it - pointing to him and then petting Darcy. He nodded and I told him he could (and smiled and nodded to him). He gave her some really gentle pets and then just sat near us. Shortly after that we were called into the exam room and he picked up the puppy and went back to stand near his dad. Now, I have no idea why that little boy did what he did. I do know our body language said we were sad about something. Whether he picked up on that and decided to do something to help or if he was just a very friendly (and polite) little boy who wanted to meet Darcy I don't know. But I am glad he did. He definitely made the time in the waiting room so much easier and I appreciated it. And, obviously, language was not a barrier here. There truly are angels among us. I wish him, his family and his puppy well.

While I had only planned on being Darcy's foster home, I became her Forever one. My home is not the one I had envisioned for her but it was obviously the one that she needed. I am so happy that I could be there for her when she needed me most. She was a proud, beautiful, sweet, obnoxious, annoying and wonderful dog who won over the hearts of all who met her. And I miss her.

Her ashes now sit on my window sill in a beautiful wooden box. The crematorium sent a certificate as well as a condolence letter when they returned her ashes to the clinic. Throughout all of this, I received the support of RRUS members and other Ridgeback owners.

May all of the Darcys out there find the homes that they deserve..and yes, that they need...
A special thanks goes out to Evelyn and Carol, who approved all of the vet costs (no questions asked) and who supported me in my decisions and, yes, who cried with me. Darcy's situation is not a common one, for which I am glad. But, I would not trade my time with her for the world.

Sleep well, Darcy. And wake up healthy and strong. And remember, You. Are. Loved. 1995 - June 27, 2007


At 7/14/2007 5:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Susan, thank you for the one year plus gift of life you gave to Darcy. She was so fortunate to find the various caring people who looked out for her when she was in need.

At 7/14/2007 5:42 AM, Blogger Bevalee said...

im sorry to hear about Darcy she was a beautiful girl. I noticed she was no longer on the website and thought she may have been adopted. Thank you for sharing her story, although sad I am so happy that Darcy found her TRUE forever home with you and that she has her (ridgeback favorite) spot in the sun at your home were she is loved.

At 7/14/2007 4:45 PM, Blogger Patti said...

Thank you for being the best years of Darcy's life. With you she was appreciated for the beautiful lady she was. As that little boy at the vet was your angle, you were Darcy's angle.

At 7/14/2007 10:41 PM, Blogger Amanda said...

Thanks for sharing. Sounds like Darcy was "adopted" by all who knew her. I love the story of the little boy in the waiting room. Animals have a way of breaking down barriers. You provided her w/ what she needed when she needed it most.
I too like the senior pets- on top of our 2 Ridgebacks, we have Beans. She is a little 11-13 year old Cockapoo. We adopted her only a few years back. She is wonderful and a joy to be around.

Thanks for the warning- tissues were needed for this post and reply.

At 7/25/2007 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Susan, Cub [Colby], Karen and myself hope that your heart heals quickly and the warm memories that you have of Darcy will see you through. All good things,D K and C

At 7/25/2007 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Susan, Cub [Colby], Karen and myself hope that your heart heals quickly and the warm memories that you have of Darcy will see you through. All good things,D K and C


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