Nicky was one of the lucky ones. Barbara and Charles Rigdon of Huntington Beach listened with their heart and ‘heard’ Nicky’s plea. Nicky had been a family pet for ten years then all of the sudden his family had no time for him and they basically dumped him on a rescue group to find him a new home.

The Rigdons’ last dog, a Shih Tzu, went to the Rainbow Bridge in 2005. They weren’t expecting to adopt an older dog, but when she looked at his photo, Barbara told me, she thought, “Look at that face. He’s older, and no one will want him.”

The Rigdons brought Nickers, now Nicky, home in late March.

“He’s so great,” Barbara said. “The day we brought him home, he was great.”

Nicky was “starving for attention” when he came to live with the Rigdons, but they’ve taken care of that. He gets toys and walks and plays with the kids who live on the Rigdons’ street.

The little dog looks to be a mix between a golden retriever and a Shetland sheepdog. Not that what he is matters to the Rigdons. It’s who he is that has them head over heels in love with him.

“We’re so lucky,” Barbara told me, not once but many, many times the day I visited.

And they’re not the only ones. Nicky is very lucky, too.

Sadly, most older and senior dogs are not as lucky a Nicky was. When most people look for a dog they tend to look for puppies. Most senior dogs who have outlived their usefulness and been turned in to a shelter live out their last days, month or years in crowded, unwanted confusion.

They sit in their cramped quarters, lost and listless as day by day they are passed over. They wonder what they could possibly have done as their vision clouds and pain settles in their joints. They yearn for their soft beds and pleasant walks and the pets and cuddles of the family they have given their best years to. This is what they are doomed to until at last a kindness, a needle is inserted into their vein and they pass beyond this. For them this is a kindness.

Here is the story of one senior dog who so far has not been so lucky. A 15 yr old blind chow/corgi mix. Her eyes held fear and confusion.

The dog was brought into the crowded South Los Angeles animal shelter by her owner, who led her in, ignoring the pleas of her teenage daughter to keep the family pet and ignoring the plea of a shelter volunteer to please take the dog to a private vet and have her euthanized if she could no longer keep her. An old, blind dog in a run with dogs all around her, in a new environment with strange scents and noises?

That’s nothing but cruel.

But the woman would have none of it. “I just can’t deal with this dog anymore. I can’t worry that one day I will come home and find her dead,” she said, according to the volunteer quoted …

So, for $5, the price of a burrito and, in this case, her soul, this woman turned her old dog over to a shelter where the dog would have virtually no chance of anything but a certain death. That’s not the shelter’s fault. It’s not the dog’s fault.

It’s the fault of one person, and one person only: the owner.

Fortunately, the dog didn’t ever land in the shelter. A volunteer took her home. But, this was the reason for the e-mail, the volunteer’s resident dog doesn’t like the newcomer, and has attacked her at least twice. The e-mail was a plea for a new home for the dog, named Patrina.

The volunteer is still looking. Patrina, like all the oldsters, deserves to live out what’s left of her life in comfort, in a secure environment where she can do what old dogs do: eat, sleep, get some pats and sigh heavily with contentment.

Is this what we are teaching our children today? That lives are disposable, to be thrown away at a whim!

I will never, as long as I live, understand how people can behave as Patrina’s owner did. She has taught her child that dumping something we love is OK. She has taught disposability. It would serve her right, 40 years down the road, if her daughter used that lesson to dump her mother in a nursing home, turn, and never look back.

We must stop seeing animals as disposable. We must stop seeing them as so much property, property that can change hands as easily as the coffee table that no longer goes with our living room furniture.

We need to start listening. We need to let our animals talk to us, and to hear that all they want is love.

We need to learn the wonderful words that came so frequently to Barbara Rigdon’s lips: “We are so lucky” to share our lives with them.

Please, open your heart and listen!! Every life is precious! Teach that to your children! Teach them to care and to honor the gift of life and to love everyday.

Source – Orange County Register

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