Disneyland. The happiest place on earth.
It seemed like the perfect destination for an Illinois couple that needed a little happy in their life.
Running a dog rescue is taxing in ways that most people can’t comprehend. Besides the daily financial concerns, there are the emotional ones.
Not being able to save every needy dog that crosses your path is draining. Losing so many that you try to save is costly both monetarily and emotionally.
So, when Sheridan and Bryan Thorse Pierard had a chance for a relaxing family vacation in Florida, they jumped at the chance.
They love what they do, but eventually, even the strongest horse has to break its traces for a while.
But, while a workhorse may be out of its traces, it doesn’t ever forget the job it was born to do.
And that’s what happened when the Pierards saw a picture of a forlorn, matted, sick little dog that needed them.
At first they hardened their hearts. Needy dogs are everywhere. You can’t save them all, they reminded themselves.
Then, Sheridan told the Dodo, “He was a few hours from where we were vacationing, and I said, ‘We could just go meet him.’”
So, on went the old traces. They were back in the saddle again.
They abandoned the Disneyland tickets and headed out for the high-kill shelter where the little dog was on the list to be euthanized.
They were led to a back room to see him…he was in too bad condition for the general public to see him when they came looking for a new family pet to adopt. The Pierards hearts fell when they saw him.
“He was clearly emaciated and in great need,” Sheridan said.
“Most of his fur was missing, he was about half the weight he should have been, he was blind, had a massive skin infection and had terrible untreated glaucoma.”
“My husband said, ‘Look at him.’ And I did. I saw endless work. Sleepless nights. A dog who would likely need a funeral even if I tried my best to save him.”
“I had been through this before and felt too tired to do it again.”
The Pierards had planned a vacation full of rest and fun, and gone across the country to find it. They certainly hadn’t gone to that much trouble to “…find a way to come home with more work,” Sheridan said.
That’s when the blind, nameless dog walked into a wall, and their hearts melted.
“I felt too emotionally drained to care for him, but instead of thinking about myself, I decided to think of him.”
“How emotionally drained must he be, utterly alone, in pain and not knowing or even being able to see where he was.”
No one knew his story, but those who do rescue know that almost certainly he had been abandoned by those he had loved and trusted for most of his life.
People who say they couldn’t bear to see him getting old and sick, so they abandoned him and drove away.
Likely telling themselves a happy Disney story about how all abandoned animals find a glorious home on a farm where they run and play for the rest of their days.
Ignoring the fact that most of them die either under the wheels of a car, in the teeth of predators, through starvation or dehydration, or in the case of this poor dog, in a kill-shelter, terrified and alone, after the obligatory time runs out.
Sheridan sat on the floor of the shelter and called to the dog. To her surprise he started wagging his tail, putting his paws on her shoulders and licking her face.
Despite his terrible condition, it was clear the dog hadn’t given up hope on a better life just yet.
How dogs can continue to trust humans after all of the things they suffer at their hands always amazes us.
“He rubbed his smelly, dirty face on me and I laughed as he snuggled close,” Sheridan added. “He became a member of the Thorse Dog Rescue family and our own family that day.”
The couple packed up the dog that they had named Guppy and they headed for home. All thoughts of visiting Micky and Minnie were forgotten when they realized how much care the gaunt, frail little dog needed.
They took him to their vet as soon as they returned home. They were told that with the dog’s advanced age and numerous health issues, he wouldn’t survive more than a few days.
And by all rights, he shouldn’t have. But still, the Perard’s persisted. After several days in the hospital on emergency care, Guppy’s eye was removed and he was given medicated baths for his skin conditions.
When he got home, the real work began. Progress was slow, but they didn’t give up. He hadn’t given up, how could they?
“We alternated between medicated baths, Epsom salt, and apple cider soaks and rubbing him with a cream I made from coconut oil, vitamin E oil and apple cider vinegar,” Sheridan explained.
“He still wanted to chew on himself, so we put booties and a soft collar on him and held him constantly.”
Besides them having to be there for all of the treatments, Guppy was completely dependent on his new owners. He was unable to eat, pee or even move on his own.
“Even when we slept, he would often wake us up crying, and we’d have to go to him and figure out what he needed,” Sheridan said.
When it started becoming almost too much, the little dog would wag his tail or lick her hand when she showed up, and it made it all worthwhile.
It was a long, slow haul, but Guppy survived. As the months passed he grew stronger. His skin infection cleared, his fur grew back and he even began to eat on his own.
“He went from completely dependent to very self-sufficient,” Sheridan said with a proud smile. “He is still old, so he likes to sleep a lot, but whenever he is awake he likes to say ‘Hi’ to his parents.”
It’s been a year now since that day that the Pierards were led to that back room to meet that horrifyingly damaged little dog. Today, the change is stunning.
Instead of dying in the back room of a crowded shelter, Guppy lives in a house that has a bed in every room. They never know where they will find him, but they are always sure that wherever he is, he has a smile on his face.
They smile too, knowing that his smiles are because of them. Would they do it again? Knowing what the costs would be?
Absolutely! “He reminds me to not give up,” Sheridan says firmly. “Even at his darkest hour he didn’t give up, and he ended up getting a forever family who loves him endlessly.”
We should all be so lucky.
People pass by senior pets when they are looking to adopt because they think they can’t cope with their death.
By passing them by, however, you are actually contributing to it. If you don’t adopt them, likely no one else will. Yet, obviously, senior dogs still have much to offer those who give them a chance.
Source: The Dodo