By Helene Jorgensen, WHS Behavior, Training and Socialization Volunteer
Shane was old—really old—probably around 15 years. Three months before I met him, he had been picked up as a stray by the Washington Humane Society’s (WHS) Animal Care and Control team. At the Georgia Avenue Adoption Center, he patiently waited for a new forever family. He greeted everyone politely, but he was often passed over by potential adopters, including myself.
The first time I saw Shane was in the visitor room at the WHS Georgia Avenue Adoption Center.
The second time I saw Shane, he was in his kennel. He appeared to have forgiven me the rejection. When he saw me, he went rummaging through his bedding to find his hidden rawhide chew that he then offered to me through the door.
The third time I saw Shane, I was taking him home as my new foster dog.
Shane turned out to be the model foster dog. He was sweet, well-mannered and quiet. The only exception was a compulsion to hump every large male dog he met. Amazingly, all the dogs Shane met realized that he was old and not quite “with it,” and they would ignore him by walking away. Shane seemed to suffer from dementia; he was deaf and walked as if he was drunk. Sometimes he would stumble and fall flat on his face. At home while sleeping, he would lift his head and bang it hard against the floor repeatedly, so I would wake up at night to place folded towels under his head to cushion the blows. Despite these quirks, Shane never stopped enjoying life. He loved to go for walks, hang out in the local dog park, meet new friends, and enjoy nice petting breaks. He seemed to always be smiling, and his tail was constantly wagging.
The last time I saw Shane, I was holding his limp, dead body in my arms at the veterinary clinic. On his tenth day as a foster dog with us, Shane suddenly could not stand up, and a check of his gray-white gums told me that he was bleeding to death. My husband and I rushed him to the emergency vet, where they discovered that his body was riddled with cancer, and a blood-filled tumor in the stomach had burst. Shane had to be humanely euthanized.
That same night, a miniature pinscher being fostered by a WHS employee gave birth to a litter of puppies. The firstborn puppy was named Shane in his honor, and fortunately, the puppy was a boy.
My husband and I cried for several days after Shane’s passing. But we also felt happiness that we had known Shane and that Shane had been loved and not alone in his final days.
Five years have passed since I first met Shane, and I often think of him. His picture still adorns the wall at the WHS Behavior and Learning Center (BLC). The other day, a colleague asked me about the picture at BLC.
“Who Is Shane?” she asked.
I told her that Shane is the dog who taught me that every dog, regardless of age, health and prior experiences, deserves a second chance.
WHS Grey Muzzle program dogs have no adoption fees, encouraging adopters to consider these special older dogs, who are just as much in need of loving homes as young dogs. Older dogs are often overlooked, and there are lots of loving senior dogs looking for families right now at WHS – www.washhumane.org/adopt.
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