Editors Note: Turbo has been adopted! More updates to follow.
I try my best not to judge, but it never seems to work out that way. I guess I’ll have to learn that lesson in my next life.
I can never seem to wrap my mind around the fact that people surrender an old pet simply because the animal has grown old or infirm. A better me might understand it, but like I said, I haven’t reached nirvana yet.
After two and a half days of volunteering, I had velcroed my heart to the dogs at Old Friends—residents of a section at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary named Dogtown Heights. I was there to learn what these dogs had to teach me, and I made a promise to them that I’d listen.
Acorn, a beautiful white Sheppard, was a feral dog that roamed the Mojave Desert and was discovered running through a brush fire. It took one of her caretakers—a wonderful woman named Cheri—about a year before she could get Acorn to eat out of her hand. I respected her distancing and did not approach.
I adored meeting Turbo, a mid–sized Whippet mix who was originally adopted in 2003, and then returned earlier this year. Turbo has mouth sores and skin conditions that have been difficult to treat and diagnose, but Best Friends sticks by him as they continue to work toward a resolution to his medical problems.
Turbo is blessed to be in a loving environment surrounded by great vet care. However, his caretakers would like to see him go to a good home, confident that nothing quite beats the physical and emotional comfort of a soft mattress and a warm body. His volunteer caretaker, Lee, thinks the cost of Turbo’s medication might be an obstacle to his adoption.
Eve is yet again another dog that had been adopted and later returned. She lost the use of her back legs from a neurological disorder, and has problems with her front legs as well. After entering Best Friends, she was fitted with a cart and preceded to live her life. Her caretakers and volunteers created a positive, loving space and saw her as a happy dog. About two weeks after I returned to Denver, I learned that the quality of Eve’s life had deteriorated, and that Best Friends had made the decision to euthanize her. I was very sad. I just saw her, how can this be? I said to myself, and later, I realized that that train of thought led to a dead end. Instead, I chose to hold onto the memory of her smile on the day I watched her enthusiastically maneuver herself and her new cart around the sandy terrain of the dog park.
I take my baseball cap off to all those caretakers who work their behinds off for the dogs of Old Friends at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. While I was there, I met Lee, Meagan, and Cheri and I was fortunate to spend time with them. The caretakers are the backbone and heart of the sanctuary. Their responsibilities are enormous; they administer meds; pick up poop; pump water from a well; feed the dogs (some on special diets); clean kennels and runs; socialize with the dogs; observe, report and assess behaviors; craft an appropriate mixture of dogs to share a kennel and a run; wash all those food bowls, stacking them just so; transport the dogs to the clinic and assign tasks to the volunteers. And trust me, you won’t find their names and yearly income listed in Forbes.
Within the Best Friends website, there is a section entitled Guardian Angels. It spotlights animals at the sanctuary that have special needs. You can access it here.
You can find the stories of Turbo and the others in the Current Animals section, and you can also find the story of Eve in the section entitled Alumni. It’s here that caretaker, Lee, has fashioned a heartfelt eulogy honoring Eve and her sweet spirit.
There are many places where animals are never given the chance to tell their story. At times, my sorrow is overwhelming. Thank you to all the rescuers, transporters, trainers, fosters, adopters, volunteers, and supporters of No Kill Colorado. It is you, their Guardian Angels that give these animals someone to miss them when they are gone.