From My Window
Cady's Happy Ending
By Jane Thibodeau Martin,
Unfortunately it is not an uncommon thing for an animal whose owner dies or becomes disabled, and needs institutionalized care, to end up homeless. Shelters often plead for adopters for "senior" animals who ended up in this situation. Not too many families want to adopt a pet who is in the autumn of their lives. An organization here in Tulsa that specializes in this sad situation is called "Street Cats." While they have an active outreach targeting the live trapping and spaying of feral cats, they also are a no-kill shelter of last resort and take senior animals, as their space permits. Many of these cats belonged to people who did not have family in the area, or whose family had no interest in taking their loved one's faithful companion. Cats are ideal companions for older people, with their ability to live in small spaces with no need for outdoor walking. But when those owners pass away, or require nursing facility care, the lucky ones end up at a place like Street Cats. God bless the wonderful women at Street Cats.
But sometimes, everything falls into place for a pet in such a sad situation, and I share the happy ending for a beautiful mixed breed I'll call "Cady."
Cady was tall, long, lanky senior dog when I met her. Her owner had adopted her when she was around one or two, with a few misgivings, from a shelter - when the dog she really wanted to adopt was gone before she got to the shelter. Her ancestry was a mystery " she had a longer, harsh coat; chin whiskers and was really big " we usually settled on some Russian Wolfhound or Brussels Griffon, and maybe some hunting hound. But Cady hit the jackpot with her owner "Mary." Mary had lost her husband some years earlier and had no children. Her parents were elderly, and like her only brother, lived on the East Coast. Cady became her constant companion, living in a lovely home in a friendly neighborhood where she could go outside and chase chipmunks. She was indulged in her obsession with chasing balls often, taken to swim in a nearby lake, and was a favorite with Mary's friends.
In one of life's unfair developments, Mary, close to retirement age, became ill with cancer. She underwent numerous chemotherapy sessions and endured many setbacks, but finally became well enough to go to M.D. Anderson for a bone marrow transplant. During Mary's many long and frequent hospital stays, Cady was cared for by some of Mary's neighbors, "Joe and Sue." They lived just a few doors away and did not have a pet of their own, but they really liked Cady. What was interesting is that although the houses were close, Cady never went "home" to Mary's house when Mary was hospitalized and she was staying with Joe and Sue. And when Mary was home, she never went to Joe and Sue's, although she loved to see them when they came over, or Mary walked her to their house. She completely understood the arrangements, and honored them. In essence, she had two separate homes.
When Mary's bone marrow transplant failed, she came home to die. When I picked her up in Houston, she couldn't stop talking about seeing Cady. Friends took turns staying with Mary to care for her, and Cady politely let the caretaker on duty know if someone was at the door " a neighbor or friend, a runner delivering a prescription, or one of the hospice team. She greeted them all politely, and then laid on her bed keeping an eye on Mary. She was amazingly well-behaved, and everyone was impressed with her.
As Mary became weaker, she talked openly about her impending death. One night when I was sitting with her, I told her how much I loved Cady, and offered to take her to live with me after Mary was gone. Mary gave me a big smile and said, "You were my second choice. But Joe and Sue love her, and have asked that she come to live with them." Now, I have four rescue cats, two rescue dogs and two horses already, one of them a rescue, and I was a tiny bit relieved. But I have to say that it was an honor to be a second choice for a sweet senior dog like Cady. And given how organized Mary was about her situation, I should have known taking care of Cady's future was a top priority.
Mary died about ten days later. Cady moved to Joe and Sue's permanently, and never went back to Mary's house until her friends gathered there for a memorial service a few weeks later. She greeted all her friends there, and it was a joy to see her so obviously happy and well-cared for and still in her familiar neighborhood. She is extremely lucky " few senior dogs in her situation, especially big dogs like her, could have had such a loving and smooth transition to another indoor home.
I had lunch with another person who was on Mary's "in home care team" this week. He told me he saw a picture of Joe with Cady, at the local "dog swimming lake" she often visited with Mary. In the picture, Cady has one of her beloved tennis balls in her mouth, and she is happily at Joe's side. I know that Mary is looking down with a big smile on her face, because Cady is in wonderful hands.
You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: Janiethibmartin@gmail.com.
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