A true story of love and animal rescue
Once upon a time (yes, I just started this story with once upon a time) there was this amazing woman who was so full of life, her name was Liz. She had lost her husband a while back and had always had Dachshunds in her life. Her companion at that time was named Heidi, a beautiful red standard Dachshund. I met Liz at the Veterinary Clinic I used to work at and because we were both Dachshund lovers, we became friends and that friendship lasted for many years. Heidi gave Liz so much comfort and I would see them walking together around town often. Liz loved Heidi and they were inseparable. One day Heidi took her last breath which left Liz alone. Soon after Heidi’s passing, Liz started looking for another companion. She went to the Humane Society in Rochester, MN to adopt a cat but did not find the purrfect fit (I just love a good pun). As she was walking out, a woman and her child came in with this younger Dachshund. Liz was certainly never shy and asked, “Why are you bringing him in here, are you surrendering him? If so, I would love to adopt him”. She instantly fell in love with this 1-2 year old little young man and ended up bringing him home. She named him Harley Davidson; surely a reflection of the spunk she saw in him and perhaps in her as well. I would see Liz walking with Harley around town; they were instantly inseparable characters. Our friendship continued and we gladly watched Harley while Liz was on vacation. Harley got to know our family and would very easily transition into cuddling and playing with our “gang”. He became a second child to us here at Dachshund a.k.a. “Wiener” Camp 😉 One day, Liz started forgetting. She fell victim to that one disease that interferes with daily functioning. That one disease that leaves you with nothing and steals your memories, your actions, your mind. Liz was diagnosed with dementia. It was horrible to see such a beautiful, active life taken away; she loved to play the piano, she loved to dance, she loved to sing, and she loved to drink and be merry with friends and family. She moved out of her home into a senior living apartment, but soon it became evident that she needed additional care. Liz was not able to take care of Harley anymore; I can only imagine how that devastated her. The family was at a loss and reached out to us asking if we could care for Harley. At the time we had a cat (Inga) and two Dachshunds (Clover and Lucy) which Harley knew and loved. Without a doubt, we said yes and picked him up right away to bring him home to be around people and other animals. Dan and I brought Harley to visit Liz and we saw the effects of Dementia, the confusion, recognition, love, thankfulness, happiness, and sadness. She loved to see him (and we loved to see her) time and time again.
On November 20th, 2016, this is what I wrote on Facebook:
Meet Harley D… This lovable old man will be staying with us for a while until we can find him a fur-ever home. His owner, a wonderful lady who loves him so very much, is suffering from dementia (what a terrible disease) and cannot take care of him any longer.
We had received many comments/remarks of people who are afraid or did not want to take in a senior pet (he was 12-13 at that time). I know many rescue organizations get this remark as well. I am here to say that Harley was just as spry as our youngest who was 2-3 at that time. Yes, as dogs, no – as all species age – we develop issues and certainly older animals can be more costly with daily medications or an out of pocket cost for a yearly dental. You just adjust your life around them and you pay for whatever veterinary care the animal needs. Senior pets deserve to be happy and live out their remainder of their life in a loving home too. These senior pets have been taken away or tossed out from a life they have been accustomed to for a long time. An owner passing, an owner not having the means to properly care for the animal, or just because they are no longer wanted. No matter the reason, it is traumatic for them. Having been in the Veterinary world, I’ve seen it all. So please, remember senior animals need love too and if you have an open spot in your home for them, please consider adoption and give them the love they need, the love and care they so deserve. Ok, rant over.
Dan and I quickly decided that Harley would live the rest of his life with us. He just fit and we knew that we had 5-7 years of unconditional love from him. Harley made us laugh every day. He was the one that made sure the gang was all fed on time. He KNEW that it was 6:30 AM or 5:00 PM no matter the day of the week. The stares of “it’s time to eat, feed me know” or “hey, I’ve got to go and if you don’t let me out right now, I will pee right here.” 😉 He let us know when he wanted to come in by his little bark, bark, bark (I sure do miss that sound). He had his own walk, a prance/trot of sorts (and yes, we called him Prancer Boy). He was just a happy-go-lucky guy. As he got older, his nickname become the “Ninja Pooper.” Look the other direction for only seconds and upon glancing back, a present was just there. This happened frequently and most often just after having been outside. When he couldn’t get outside fast enough or when we were not at home to let him outside, we adjusted and used pee pads. He was very much a part of our family. He would go on bike rides, kayaking, hikes, and traveled in the car so well. He was a gentle soul and won the hearts of all that he encountered; he just loved being around people.
On June 2, 2019, Harley was diagnosed with prostate cancer (pretty rare in neutered dogs) and was given 2 months to live. Working with the Veterinary Team at Black Dog Animal Hospital, we found the right combination of medications that just worked for him. He was like the energizer bunny whose batteries never lost power. He acted normally although after his diagnosis, if he had to go potty, you better be there to let him outside! At the end of July 2020, he started leaking and diapers came into our lives. He wore them well and did not complain at all.
On August 11, 2020, thirteen months after his original diagnosis, we had to make one hard decision. He woke up and could not urinate or defecate. I was able to give him some extra pain medications which helped relax him and allowed him to urinate and drip in his diaper. He became more comfortable, but I knew he needed to see the doctor. It was confirmed that the cancer had made his prostate so large that it appeared the tumor became one with the bladder. The cancer had engulfed his urethra squeezing the already tiny tubular structure and was pushing up on his colon. As a previous Veterinary Technician, I knew it was time and at any moment, his bladder could have ruptured. He was still so spry, he still wanted to eat, play, and run with Clover and Lucy. He still wanted to eat as much treats as he could. Although he was full of cancer, he just did not appear “sick” but we knew the cancer was taking over and limiting bodily functions. Damn cancer. This is the decision that an animal lover dreads even though you know it is better for them. We hated the decision that we were faced with. Harley passed away peacefully in our arms under the care of his doctor and a very kind technician.
The house just is not the same and at times, I think I hear the pitter-patter of his paws on the hardwood floor. He is now reunited with his first love, Liz. I am sure they are dancing all around town. I know we will meet him again someday along with those other lost loved ones.
We miss you dearly little buddy – Ma (Cyndie), Paw (Dan), Lucy, Clover. and Inga