Ralph's Rescue

"Ralph arrived at Doberman Rescue Unlimited (http:// www.dru.org) with the assistance of the Boston MSPCA. It was his second rescue. When he was young, strong, and full of life, he was tied with barbed wire and hung. This left him with injuries to his legs and permanent damage to his vocal cords. He was fortunate to be adopted by a kind family who cared for him and helped him recover. But, as he and his people companions aged, both developed medical issues. His family could no longer take responsible care for him due to their health and mobility, and surrendered him to the MSPCA. All those who had the opportunity to meet him were impressed by this handsome fellow. He was in good health and a complete gentleman. But Ralph was 12 years old and blind.

"When I adopted Ralph in May of last year, it was clear he possessed independence and a ceaseless spirit. As he took his first steps around unfamiliar surroundings, he also demonstrated determination and will. Within a few days, he knew where the food and water bowls were placed. He knew the number of steps to the yard. He knew where his bed was located and began to navigate the rest of the house based on its position. Eventually, he found the cool places under the trees and learned to roll in the grass. He became the playful companion of Margie (another Doberman) and Bosco (a "senior" German Shepherd). I stopped noticing he was blind. When he stood in the yard, his nose moving with the wind, he saw all around him. When he heard a noise, he went to the window to look. He never missed seeing the speck of food that fell on the floor. He always saw an opportunity to place a comforting paw on my lap or find a cheek to kiss.

"Ralph died in his sleep in July, just after celebrating his one year 'birthday' living with me. The loss still remains with me, and I am sorry for every minute I did not know him as a youngster. I am sorry that I did not have the joy of knowing him longer. Although our time together was short, I realize with his passing the gifts he gave me. He will always be remembered for his personality and charming soul. But he will be remembered, too, for much more than that. He was a teacher. It was his unequivocal acceptance. It may not have been his intention (or maybe it was), but he reaffirmed how important it is to adapt to life's challenges with grace and dignity. We should all be aware of the silent lessons he inspired. We should recognize and acknowledge the importance of unconditional love. We should cherish every moment with our human friends, family and our animal companions. For all he exemplified, I am happy and proud to have had the opportunity to know him and to be a part of his last rescue." Contributed by Debbie Wiebe, Buzzards Bay, MA. October 2000. (Excerpted from two articles about Ralph that appeared in the quarterly newsletter for Doberman Rescue Unlimited.) Posted December 2000. 

Randy, "The Nicest Dog in the World," Rescued at 11

Randy"I coordinate English Shepherd rescue and so I'm part of the online rescue network. It's easy to get a little numb to all the wonderful dogs needing homes, but last spring, when someone listed a gentle, elderly Collie in a 'kill' shelter in New Hampshire, I had to respond. Collie rescue groups in the area had turned him down because they were overcrowded and he was 11 years old. I already had two senior dogs --10 and 11-year-old Australian Shepherds -- so I figured one more old dog around the house wouldn't be a problem. Unfortunately, when I called the shelter they said they didn't have any older Collies there. I feared the worst. But it turned out that someone from Collie rescue in Maine had taken the old boy into foster care. Eventually word got back to me through the rescue grapevine that he was still alive and needed a permanent home. So, in July, Randy came to live with me. He was very thin, perhaps as much as 30 pounds underweight, lifeless, a little spotty in his coat, and in a major depression. The only home he had known for 10 years was gone, and it seemed he didn't like bouncing from place to place. But I brushed him out, started feeding him high quality food with cod liver oil, and took him for long walks in the woods every day with the other dogs. At first he was unsure about all the attention; but it didn't take him long to decide it was a good thing. It's been four months now and he's put on weight and looks wonderful. He's got a bounce in his step and a smile in his eyes. His coat shines and is thick and gorgeous. And he's just the nicest dog in the world. He fit in with my other dogs straight away. He never worries the cats. He loves everyone who comes to visit. He doesn't bark, chew, howl, or otherwise do anything anyone could ever object to (okay, sometimes he snores a little, but my older Aussie rattles the walls with her snores). I can't for the life of me figure out why his family gave him up. The original message to the rescue list said they were an older couple who had to go into a nursing home. But I called the shelter hoping to be able to send them a card and a picture to let them know their old dog had found a good home and the shelter said that the people who had abandoned Randy didn't have a good reason at all. He's such a wonderful dog, so full of life and love; I can only assume they must have been crazy. I don't know how long Collies live; 11 years old is probably pretty ancient for the breed. But I'd do this all over again, even if I knew I'd have Randy only for a short time. I don't think there is anything to match the joy and hope and love you get from an old dog." Contributed by Jan Hilborn, northern Vermont. 

Rascal, a 10-Year-Old Hero Who Insists on Saving Lives Again and Again

"Please allow me to introduce you to Lil' Rascal. He is a 10-year-old Pomeranian. We have been together since he was 3 months old, and he is a real sweetheart. I also have his sister, Lil' Missi, and his son, Lotta' Spirit. Rascal is a true hero. He saved Missi's life. I was in the driveway washing the car, and they were inside the fence watching me. Suddenly, Rascal started barking very loudly, which is out of character for him, and running back and forth along the fence. I couldn't imagine what he had seen to make him carry on in such a manner. His persistence made me go into the yard, and, as soon as I did, he ran to the side of the house where the pool was. Missi had fallen in and was drowning. Had he not warned me that something was going on, she would not have made it. I had a cat for 19 years, Magic, who was diabetic. He passed away in February 1998. On two separate occasions, Rascal led me to Magic, whom I found in a diabetic coma. Now you see why Rascal is a hero!" Contributed by Jacki Hadra, Maryland.

Raska, a Family Favorite for 18 Years

"Raska came into my life 18 years ago. My sister and I, just starting college, went to the Nebraska Humane Society (the name "Raska" came from "Nebraska"), looking for a dog to keep the rest of the family company while we were away -- and, of course, for ourselves, as well, to have a dog to come home to. We went back to the shelter three days in a row to see her, always completely taken with her, but concerned that she would be too small (my brother wanted a big dog). In the end, we all fell in love with her. She has always been very loyal, and, even though she refused to be leashed, she would stick by us when on a walk. She loved chasing squirrels with my dad, would furiously gnaw on wrists when excited about seeing you, and loved to be buried in the sand on warm days. She has always been a trooper. She has been living with me and my husband for the past 5 years, since my parents moved to a condo that doesn't allow pets. She's changed a bit in her old age. We don't take as many walks, and she needs to take Enacard for her heart. Her hearing and sight are starting to deteriorate and she's a little senile sometimes -- fogetting, standing distracted in the middle of the living room, a tad incontinent. I love her dearly. My heart aches sometimes to see her growing old, but I know she has had a good life. She will always be loved." Update July 1998: Sadly, Raska was called to the Rainbow Bridge. Contributed by Dakota Buechler, Portland, OR

Rhona Is Perfect and Very Precious
"Rhona came to live with us when she was six months old, on January 12, 1990. She was rescued from a terrible life by the R.S.P.C.A. She has been with us now for nearly 14 years. Rhona is perfect and very precious.  She has never put a paw in the wrong direction in her entire life. She travelled all over Scotland with us, enjoyed swimming in the lochs, chased rabbits in the forest and generally had great fun. We hope she will be with us for a long time yet. You can see from her photo just how adorable she is." Contributed by Joan & Donald Richardson, September 2003.

Rio, Adopted at 6; Now 11 Years Old, Walks to Raise Money for Homeless Animals

Rio, adopted at 6"Rio was adopted by my family from a Labrador Retriever rescue association at the age of 6. She is still very active and still loves exercise -- even now, at the age of 11. We recently participated in a dog walk to raise money for homeless animals. I attribute Rio's great health to exercise, the correct food, and, especially, the terrific care she gets from the five vets at the animal hospital where I work. Rio is my focus every day. I truly love her." Contributed by Michele C., Randolph, NJ

"River Dawg" -- A 9-year-old Retriever is Rescued from Drowning and Euthanasia

"My husband works part time for the local animal shelter, the Edmonton S.P.C.A. Last fall they received a call about a dog lying on the river bank half in the water. My husband is the emergency driver, and so he was dispatched to the scene. He found the dog unconscious and bleeding. The dog was brought back to the shelter and treated for minor injuries only. He had been in the water for some time, was suffering from hypothermia and shock and was severely emaciated. He clearly had been fending for himself for quite a long time before he fell in the river. Due to his condition and his age -- estimated at about 9 years -- the veterinarians at the shelter decided he should be put down. My husband brought him home instead. He's still quite thin and not as agile as the rest of our dogs, but, other than that, he's a happy, healthy Golden Retriever cross. My husband named him 'River Dawg,' and we consider ourselves very fortunate to have him as part of our family." Contributed by Samantha Perrier & Andy Arseniuk, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. February 1999

Robbie, a 19 (21?)-year-old Border Collie, Loves Curry and Keeps His Wits about Him

"Robbie is a Border Collie and has been part of our family for many years . I myself grew up with him. Our vet says there is proof only that he is 19 years old, although we think he may be as old as 21. He had a roving eye for blonde dogs in his younger days, but life is far more sedate for him now. It has long been known in India that spices in curry may hold the key to long life. Robbie, in his old age, has developed a taste for curry. In fact, he sniffs disapprovingly at any dog food! Currently, Robbie has cataracts, osteoarthritis, and a cold that has lingered for a year. We nearly lost him last year due to a severe infection, but he is a tough dog and he pulled through. He cannot see very well but uses his nose to do most of his daily activities. He is independent and has good mobility. We have known him for so long, we know when he wants to eat or be left alone.

"In Robbie's younger years, we taught him to open doors, a skill that saved my father's life last year when he had collapsed with a heart attack. Having barked to the neighbourhood to get help, Robbie then opened the doors to allow emergency services to enter the house. In his old age, Robbie is still extremely intelligent and has kept his lovely temperament. He's an old dog with a colourful past, and we are proud of him. We do not know how long he will live, but we would like people to know and be entertained by the wonderful personality he continues to have. He still never eats his dinner unless we provide him with a king's banquet of curried chicken! Contributed by Dr.Rita Pal, United Kingdom. November 2001.

Robin, Chased Squirrels at 15, & Algy, Both Gone to the Rainbow Bridge

"Robin (black flat-coat mix) was 'Born on the Fourth of July,' 1983, and was 15 in October 1998. She still loved her walks (jumping completely off the ground when she saw her harness and leash) and still loved to chase squirrels. Robin had arthritis and a heart condition, and was also a long-term survivor (8 years!) of bladder cancer, thanks to the outstanding care of Dr. Clare Seagren and the intervention of St. Francis of Assisi. Robin was my first baby, and we learned together. I still don't know if she thought I was a dog or if she was human, but, as far as she was concerned, we were the same species. Algernon (blond cocker) was almost 12 when it was the right time to let him go to the Rainbow Bridge. Born on May 21, 1986, Algy came to Robin and me on Robin's third birthday. Algy never lost his puppy qualities; until the very last minute of his life, he was a cuddler and a kisser. Dr. Clare often said that Algy should have been named 'Allergy' because he had so many; but he took his pills (at least two every day of his life from age 6 months) without complaint. Algy went blind very suddenly in 1995 and quickly learned to use his head as a cane, bumping into things, backing up, and trying again. After several mini-strokes, he developed diabetes in March, 1998; I decided not to subject him to shots and proceeded to spoil him and get ready to let him go, which I did on the Friday after Easter. I still miss my little boy. I didn't want to make Robin adjust to a new dog in the house, but now that she has been called to heaven, I'm planning to adopt an older dog and a puppy at the same time. 'Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be.' " Contributed by Ann Cowan, Lexington, KY

Roxy, Still Going Strong at 15 in "Three Wheel Drive"

"Roxy, my Australian Shepherd/Husky mix will be 15 in January 2003. I adopted her when she was six months old. A piece of plywood was dropped accidentally on her hip and broke it. She had been left at the vet hospital to be put to sleep. I saw her there and told the vet tech that I would take her if they fixed her hip. They did fix it; however, she never has had use of one of her back paws. -- 'three wheel drive,' as I call it. Anyway, she doesn't get around as much lately, but is in great health, gets good check ups from the vet and still looks cuddly and cute as she did when I found her." Contributed by Robert Boland. January 2003.

Perky Little Ruby Survived a Life of Neglect

"In December 2003, as I was looking through a list of available Norwich and Norfolk Terriers on petfinder.com, I noticed the description of a new little girl: Ruby, a 12-year-old purebred Norwich Terrier. Ruby's former guardian had kept her in a crate on an outdoor patio for about two years. A concerned neighbor was instrumental in having the guardian surrender her, and she was taken into rescue. There were quite a few applications to adopt Ruby, but I was the lucky one who got her. I have two Norwich Terriers already, and I felt I could give this little girl a very good home and make her final years happy ones. On January 1, 2004, I drove from northern California to San Diego to pick her up. On the trip back home, she was very quiet, and I realized I could only begin to imagine what she had gone through the last few years of her life. She slept most of the time for the first few days we had her and, when she finally did begin to move around, I noticed that her hips and back legs were weak from being kept confined for so long. Now that she's been with us for almost three months, we can't believe how well she is doing. She is perky, loves her daily walks, can run up and down the stairs, and amazingly has recovered almost all her strength. She is a sweet and friendly little dog; everyone who meets her loves her. We think she may be closer to 14 years of age than 12, but whatever her age, our goal is to make her happy and to have her feel loved and wanted in her final years. You just couldn't ask for a better little dog to have and to love. In fact, she is the one who makes us feel loved and wanted. We are very happy that Ruby has joined our family." Contributed by Brenda, northern CA. April 2004.

Update, March 2005: "Ruby is doing pretty good for an old girl. We feel blessed that she is part of our family. She has a few medical issues but nothing life threatening. She gets around okay, and loves to 'run' outside with the other two Norwiches for Bird Patrol. She's still just as sweet and loving as ever. Here is a picture taken in December after coming home from the groomer......." Contributed by Brenda De Shields, northern CA. March 2005.

Rudi, at Age 12, a Fifty-Pound Lap Dog

Rudi, Age 12"Rudi, my English Bull Terrier, came to live with me when she was 4 years old. She had been the 'only child' of a young couple in Houston, but had become jealous after the birth of their first human baby. These funny-looking dogs had been the subject of my paintings (I am an artist), as an icon of a free and happy life. When my then-husband saw the ad for Rudi in the paper, he thought--quite correctly--that the dog would make a perfect companion for me while he traveled. The marriage didn't last, but my relationship with Rudi did. I learned to sleep on the edge of the bed because Rudi liked to stretch out and would give a sharp jab with her hind foot if she needed more room. In the mornings when I awoke, her big, funny head would be lying on the pillow facing mine. Her motto seemed to be 'what's good enough for you is certainly meant for me as well.' She insisted on sitting in my lap--all 50 pounds of her, head and feet hanging off the edge of the chair--while I ate breakfast and read the morning paper. As she grew older, surgery scarred her ears; they no longer stood up alertly as a Bull Terrier's should. Alas, she also became rather wart-prone--you'll notice a prominent beauty on her snout. I always told her this made her look extra-glamorous. Never one to doubt her own perfection, I think she believed me. She lived until July of this year, to the ripe old Bull Terrier age of 12. To her dying day you could get her to do just about anything by crooning, 'You're sooo pretty!' " Contributed by Betty Castle, Austin, TX. Photograph by Jennifer VanGilder.

Ruffles, Age 13, as Babysitter

Ruffles as Babysitter"Here's a picture of my dog, Ruffles, and my grandson, Sean. Sean was looking for a soft place for a nap and found the dog. I discovered them in this pose, where they stayed for a very long time, both seemingly very contented. Ruffles has the sweetest disposition, and is such a caring dog. I know she sensed that Sean needed to sleep just where he did, so she kept still while he got his rest." Contributed by Ann Nutting, San Francisco, CA. (In memoriam: Ruffles went to the Rainbow Bridge in the fall of 1998.)