A Promise to My Foster Dog

SNORT – Short Noses Only Rescue Team is an all-volunteer rescue based in the Northeast US. Our purpose is to rescue French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs, and English Bulldogs, as well as mixes of those breeds, from shelters and owners who can no longer keep them, and place them into loving homes. We believe all dogs should be given a chance at life and a fair evaluation of their behavioral issues.

On December 1, 2012, SNORT was notified that an emaciated Boston Terrier named “Oreo” was on the list for euthanization at the NY Animal Care & Control facility in Manhattan.  I immediately said I would foster him.  SNORT made the call for him to be pulled from the shelter and a transport was arranged.

The following day, my husband and I drove an hour to meet another volunteer and take custody of “Oreo”.  When I first laid eyes on this precious boy, I honestly could not believe that he was even alive.  To say his condition was shocking is an understatement.  He was not just emaciated – he had lost most of his fur, had a swollen, infected eye and he was unable to hold his bowels. We’ve all seen photos of animal neglect, but to see it in person – to touch it – to smell it – the feeling of his pain in my heart was almost unbearable.  He was truly at death’s door.

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A walking skeleton.

We wrapped him in a clean blanket and took him into our car.  I held him on my lap for the hour-long ride home.. and I cried.  I sobbed for him and what he’d been through.  And then I made him a promise that he would be loved and treated with kindness for as long as he was alive, no matter how long that was.

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Emaciated and exhausted.

When we got him home, we bathed him and treated his eye with ointment.  His skin was raw and inflamed.  You could see and feel every bone on his tiny little body.  His nails had obviously never been trimmed and were so long and gnarly that they curled under his toes.  He was so frail that he could barely keep his legs beneath him as he stood.  He reminded me of Bambi on ice – slipping and sliding on the vinyl of our kitchen floor.

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Phee’s first bath in his foster home.

It quickly became apparent that this was more than just a case of neglect.  This dog was gravely ill.  Feces was leaking out of him continuously.  He refused food, but drank bowls full of water.  He would stare off into space as if he were on another planet.  I honestly wasn’t sure he would make it through the night and if he did, what was left of him that could be recovered?

I set up camp on the couch, with “Oreo’s” puppy-pad-covered bed on the floor next to me.  He was restless, unable to get comfortable.  He was very concerned at the fact that he was making a “mess” with  his leaking bottom, so he attempted to clean up after himself.  I scooped him up and wrapped his bottom in a puppy pad.  I held him and rocked him through the night.. until he finally sighed, laid his head on my shoulder and gave in to the feeling that he was safe.  It is a moment I will never forget as long as I live.  I felt him release the weight of his world on my shoulders.  And again I promised he would be loved and treated with kindness.  Forever.

Finally letting go of the weight of his world.

Finally letting go of the weight of his world.

The next day, I brought him to the vet to determine what, if any, underlying issues he had that would be causing his condition.   He was diagnosed with diabetes, which would require daily insulin shots for the remainder of his life.  The vet said he was too far gone and was against treating him at all, stating “I don’t understand why anyone would want to save a dog like this!  No one will ever want to adopt him, even if he does survive!”  I felt a red-hot anger welling up inside me and exclaimed “THEN HE WILL JUST STAY WITH ME FOREVER!”   I had promised him that – love and kindness – for the rest of his life.

From the exam room, I called the rescue coordinator for SNORT, but could not speak through the tears that were pouring from my eyes.  I handed the phone to the veterinary assistant who explained the situation and the decision was made to do everything we could to give this boy a chance at recovery.

“Oreo” was renamed Phoenix, in reference to a mythical bird that obtains new life by rising from the ashes of its former self – and Phoenix was about to be reborn. December 2, 2012 was the first day of the rest of Phoenix’s life.

Without hesitation, I began giving him insulin shots that night.  I diapered him and cleaned his wounds.  I applied ointment and drops to his eyes many, many times daily.  At first, he fought me and bit me, but slowly he began to heal, both physically and emotionally.  A new dog was emerging from beneath the scared, broken shell he had been.  He began not just to trust me, but to love me.. and the feeling was mutual.

Phee's little diapered hiney.

Phee’s little diapered hiney.

We quickly found a new veterinarian who was more understanding of our situation and helped us to get his diabetes regulated.  I spent hours upon hours reading about diabetes.  I joined online support groups for caregivers of pets with diabetes.  I spent every waking moment trying to understand this very confusing and often frustrating disease.  Finally, after 2 months, his glucose levels were normal and we found our stride.

Phee (as he’s now affectionately known) suffered a setback with a UTI in January and a URI in February, but has made a recovery that has been nothing short of miraculous.  He has gained back over 50% of his original body weight and has regrown most of his fur.  His eye has mended, though he was diagnosed with KCS (dry eye) and will require daily eye drops for the rest of his life.  But most importantly, he’s regained his spirit and has become a joyful, bubbly, affectionate little man that anyone would be very lucky to have as part of their family.

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Finding comfort in the arms of The Man.

During the last 3 months, the first veterinarian’s words became stuck in my head and I came to believe that, due to his medical conditions, no one other than me would want him.  So I allowed myself to fall in love with him.  For many weeks, I considered keeping him as my own.  But unbeknownst to me, a lovely couple with two Boston Terriers of their own had been following Phee’s story from the time he’d been listed as “URGENT” on the shelter’s facebook page.  As soon as he was listed as available, they applied to adopt him.  My heart skipped a beat and I felt the tears well up and pour down my face.  As a foster mom, I knew this day could come, but I had never imagined it could come so soon.  I cried for days, but when I think back to that time when Phee first came to me, I know how important it is that I let him go.  Another dog will need me soon.

He will be leaving me in just a few days, but I will never forget him.  I made a promise to him and I intend to keep it.  My sweet boy, you will be loved and treated with kindness – FOREVER.

Update:  June 2013 – Since this post, Phoenix developed diabetes-induced cataracts in both eyes and lost his sight.  He remained with us as a foster and had surgery to remove the cataracts.  His sight was restored, but as a complication of the surgery, he developed a deep corneal ulcer, which refused to heal.  Two months after his cataract surgery, he had a second surgery to remove his left eye.  We had met with two different couples who were interested in adopting him, but neither ended up working out.  After his eye removal in May, we decided to make him a permanent member of our family.  We officially adopted Phee on June 2.  I guess, in the end, I came to realize that the only one who could keep my promise to love him and treat him with kindness FOREVER was ME. 

See LuLu + Wally + Phee = Three! to view our adoption video!

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From the ashes of his former self, a new life is born.

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Wally, The Woman, Phee and LuLu


To learn more about how you can help by volunteering, fostering, adopting or donating, please visit www.SNORTRescue.org.

And please remember:

If you can’t adopt, FOSTER.

If you can’t foster, SPONSOR.

If you can’t sponsor, VOLUNTEER.

If you can’t volunteer, DONATE.

If you can’t donate, EDUCATE – NETWORK – CROSSPOST.

Everyone can do something, large or small, to help save a life!

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Comments
  • Lauren @ A Nerd Cooks March 7, 2013 at 9:16 am

    You are an angel. Thank you so much for all of the wonderful work that you do. Phee and his new family are very lucky to have found each other =)

  • Beth Alvis March 7, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Being a rescuer, we know what it takes to give a dog another chance. Phee is very lucky to have know you for the short time he was with you, but remember because of you and SNORT, he now has a life that he can enjoy all because of love!

  • P.K. Brooks March 7, 2013 at 11:51 am

    God bless you for all the work you do to save these dogs. Thank you for sharing this story.

  • Billie Hester March 7, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Thank God you were the one who came to Phee’s rescue. I have been following his story on FB and it is so heartwarming. Glad to hear that Phee is going to his forever home, but I know you & Lulu & Wally will miss him.

  • Barbara March 7, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    As much as I do not want to say goodbye to Phee – it’s breaking my heart, I know that you would not give him to anyone who would not give him the love and care you have. I hope (pretty please) that they will keep us updated on our little friend. We love him and will miss him and will want to know how he is!! Good luck, Phee!

  • Jen March 7, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Oh, look at him now! He looks so fantastic, I’m so glad.

  • Becky March 7, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    I am so, so, so happy that Phee has found a forever family that will love him and care for him like he deserves. His story brings tears to my eyes. The world needs more people like you Angel!

  • Two French Bulldogs March 7, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    We volunteer for the French Bulldog Rescues and her of your rescue too. You did and outstanding job for sweet baby Phee. Mom is over here sobbing with you. We
    Fostering is so so important but we would want to keep every buddy. Good luck Phee you are so loved
    Benny & Lily

  • Alfredo March 8, 2013 at 2:07 am

    you are a hero and an example!!
    xoxo

  • Ollie's mom March 8, 2013 at 7:27 am

    Many could have nursed Phee but he made it because you LOVEd him. You loved him enough help him even when he didn’t want your help and you love him enough now let him go. Thank you!

  • Tonee March 8, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Thank you for what you do. It takes a special person to be able to love so deeply then give so freely. Phee is so lucky to have had you and now his new Mom. God Bless!

  • Anuradha March 8, 2013 at 10:59 am

    GOd bless MY sons rescued two dogs and one was near death and my son nursed him back and we named him Phoneix for the same reason God bless you a million times over

  • Robyn Sabine March 8, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    This brought tears to my eyes, but I am so happy he found the love and comfort he deserves. These dogs give back so much just by being there. Thank you and God for taking a chance with him to give him love and life.

  • Pamela |Something Wagging This Way Comes March 8, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I’ve been thrilled to see Phee’s progress with you. You certainly have been an Angel to him.

    I know you’ll feel sad to let him go. But you’ll also feel great joy to see him getting a great new home. Hug LuLu and Wally close.

  • JUlia March 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Typing through tears here..what a wonderful love story!! I am so glad there are people in the world who can make promises like this. Bless you! I made that very same promise to a beautiful schnauzer named Sophie who had been badly abused in TWO former homes! She was petrified of EVERYTHING and EVERYONE!!! She has urinary and bladder problems and at one point was actually peeing BLOOD! But we have it all under control now and she has a Furever Home! :) Good luck with your rescue work!

  • Dee Belanger March 8, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    I’m so very proud of you and know you are going to help many more dogs in need! You’ve found your way of making a difference in this world!

  • […] Read the rest and see all of the photos on Angel’s site, grab some kleenex before you head over: http://www.lifewithlulu.com/2013/03/07/a-promise-to-my-foster-dog/ […]

  • Becca March 9, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Thank you Thank you Thank you for helping this sweet sweet pup.
    My story is not to this extreme but Mr Bones was 13 pounds, not eating and had been labelled aggressive because they weren’t sure what he would do. He went into rescue and I adopted him. It’s been 6 happy years since. He’s now 19 pounds, happy and healthy. Thank you for helping him find love.

  • 2 Punk Dogs March 10, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    You picked the right name for Phoenix! He looks like a completely different dog, you did and amazing job with him. :) You were so brave to give your heart to him & rehabilitate him for a new forever home.

  • Brad March 13, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    You are a brave and remarkable women. Phee looks fantastic!

  • Kitty+Coco March 15, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Oh my goodness you just made us tear up. You have done an amazing, we repeat AMAZING job with Phee. He has stolen our hearts and we won’t ever forget his story. Gosh, we know it will be hard to give him up. Jewels will be in your heavenly crown no doubt. Our jaws dropped seeing the most recent pic of him. He is almost unrecognizable! But in a good way.

  • RumpyDog! March 16, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    What an amazing recovery! You’ve done an amazing job with him.

  • RumpyDog! March 16, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    You’ve done an amazing job with him!

  • […] this week, we learned that our foster dog, Phee, has developed diabetic cataracts and is quickly going blind.   He has been withdrawn and […]

  • Ashton Christie July 14, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    @luluandwally Bravo!! I fostered one dog, for merely a week and I felt like I had lost my right arm when he left. I would love to Foster others but not sure my heart could take it. I am in awe of those that can. Thank you for not giving up on Phee and all the others you have and will help!!

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