This past week ABC blessed us with a beautiful foster child, the most wonderful Basset angel we have ever met. Clara is just turning ten years old on January 10. She was recently diagnosed with diabetes and is partially blind. She was relinquished by the only family she has ever known due to their ‘moving and not being able to take her with them’.
It’s funny how sometimes the lessons we learn from the nightmares we experience can illuminate new paths. Before we adopted Spanky we probably would not have considered fostering a diabetic, blind dog. It’s not that we would have been afraid of the task itself of giving shots or of having to guide a blind dog, but rather, I don’t think we would have felt capable of managing the disease or being the best people to help a dog like Clara. But since we went through that with Spanky and, although we are often at a loss as to what to do and sometimes Spanky’s disease gets ahead of us, he is doing remarkably well and we see every day the difference in his step and the cock of his head and how beautiful he looks now. He now wakes up looking at us with an expression of pure glee, “What new, exciting things are we gonna do today?” And we know we have made a real difference in his life as he has in ours. After the heartbreak over the loss of our three senior Basset kids, Spanky has provided comfort and blessing to our lives we never would have imagined. So because of the horrible experience of his illness we felt prepared to help a dog like Clara and we said ‘yes’ to fostering her.
We never imagined some family would actually relinquish an angel. Clara is the sweetest, most loving dog. She has impeccable house manners, takes direction well, walks well on a lead and is very intelligent. She is also very affectionate and loving even in the midst of the confusion and grief of losing the only home she has ever known. I find it weird that here we all are praying, begging for one more year, one more month or even one more day with our senior dogs and then folks just give them up because they are slowing down, or developing illnesses like Clara. It’s also strange that they can live with a dog for ten years and not understand the trauma the dog goes through when being re homed, not to mention the fear and horror of going to live in a cage in a shelter – even if it is ‘no kill.’ One thing I do know – you will go a very long way before finding another like her.
All of our dogs have taught us valuable life lessons. We learned more from them than they ever learned from us. They certainly knew more than we did. We learned about commitment. It’s not just something we do when it’s convenient or desirable. A dog is committed to his family always, every day, all the time, in good times and bad. They learn our rules, protect our houses and belongings, provide us with comfort and love and will die to protect us. I learned a lot from all of our dogs but one of the most ‘eye opening’ things I learned was from Spanky. When we first took him in as a foster he was devastated. He would pick up his favorite toy and go to the door. I knew he was saying, “it’s been fun…I really like you guys…but I do have to get back to my family now…you see I have an important job there…they won’t be ok without me.” For a while he was depressed. I thought it was just his feeling of being betrayed and abandoned, but now I know it was more than that – he was angry at me for not taking him ‘home.’ I used to try and explain to him that our home was better than the shelter he would have gone to, but of course he didn’t understand that. As time went on he adjusted, as will Clara, and he is now totally committed to us. And, unless we die before he does, he is home…forever. It just takes time, patience and love but the rewards are priceless.
Clara has only been here a few days now but she is adjusting quite well overall. She has had some bad moments, especially waking up in a strange house in the middle of night, shaking and crying. We sit with her and pet her and she goes right back to sleep. She is such an amazing dog. There really are no words to describe how wonderful she is. She follows me around the house and lays down wherever I’m working. She is interested in everything we do. She responds to every attention she gets and she lays with her head on Spanky’s back. Every time you say her name her tail wags and wags. We are all in love, especially Spanky. Don keeps telling him this is his mail order bride and singing ‘Spanky and Clara sittin’ in a tree’…
Her owners only told ABC about the diabetes and blindness but when they brought her to Shelly’s house to relinquish her she came with a host of other problems, most notable is the large, hanging tumor you can see in her intake picture. ABC was told she was ‘overweight’ when in fact she is quite emaciated and starving all of the time. After learning that her Birthday was on the 10th I started making her Bowzer cake around 5pm. (Clara eats her dinner at 7pm – diabetics need to keep to a strict schedule for meals since we need to give insulin at regular intervals.) She pushed her bowl across the room to where I was working and when I told her, ‘No, Clara, dinner is at 7 – not 5pm’, she picked up the bowl and deposited it on my foot. She has been on a regular, commercial dog food diet so we are hoping to improve her condition with a good diabetic dog food.
We are doing everything we can to help Clara adjust. We celebrated her Birthday a little early since she has to see the vet on her actual Birthday. She really enjoyed everything including a trip to Petsmart for gifts, her Bowzer cake (Spanky enjoyed that too), her diabetic treats and the Happy Birthday recording sung to her by a Corgi group. The only thing she really didn’t like was wearing the Birthday hat – Clara HATES hats! We couldn’t even keep it on her head long enough for the picture. But she ran around like a puppy opening up gifts. She truly enjoyed the entire day and it was heartwarming to see her so happy.
Clara is a joy to have in our home and we are grateful to ABC for rescuing her and allowing us to foster her. Clara sends snooter kisses to all at ABC and especially to Shelly, her own special guardian angel (AND ABC’s new President!), who, literally, saved her life. Thanks also to all of those wonderful volunteers (Bob Richardson, Tom Rodwell, Justin Beabes, Steve Cook and especially Patti Donahue who had to wait for us because we missed the exit!) who took time out of their Sunday to transport Clara, along with the beautiful Ruby, the long, long way downstate.
Last, but certainly not least, thank you so much to everyone on FaceBook who offered support, encouragement, love and sympathy to Clara. To Clara’s new Auntie Toni who is sending her Birthday gifts, to Mary for the Bowzer Cake recipe and to all who offered donations for her care. The outpouring of love and support is quite simply unbelievable.
I read many of the comments to Clara – Melinda C Monhart Capers’ posted, “Rest assured, you are now surrounded by the baddest of basset Aunties who kick ass and take no names….AMEN.” Yep, AMEN to that!
Deb Smith Gittens’, “WELCOME CLARA! Your wagons are circling! Countless people love you already.”
It’s comforting and inspiring to know that in the midst of all the cruelty in the world there really are lots of caring, loving people on the planet. I told Clara all about you rescue angels out there and she seemed to understand. Clara whispered to me to tell everyone she is eternally grateful to you all. And she sends snooter kisses – Clara loves kissing people!
Thanks to ABC for taking Clara in and funding her medical care. Thank Dog for ABC Rescue! Clara is so sweet and loving and wonderful she deserves the best and she got it! Please consider donating some of your spare change to help ABC fund medical care for Clara and other homeless hounds like her. Go to ABC Basset Rescue of NY to make a donation or become a virtual foster parent. It is truly a joy to be able to help Clara.
Oh…and did I mention…Spanky is in love.