I will always remember January 2, 2007. Not only was it my son’s 29th birthday, but it was also the day I adopted Puff.
My day started out as usual. I sipped on my coffee while surfing online. I happened to check the Coastal Humane Society’s website to see what they had for dogs. I was not looking to adopt another dog. We already had two dogs in the home and that was enough. One was our dear Bichon named Cupcake that we raised from a pup, and the other was a wonderful mutt we named Scruffy, my first shelter adoption that we got from The Animal Welfare Society in West Kennebunk, Maine.
I knew I should not have been looking at shelter dogs because I could not commit to another pet. And looking at the homeless animals just broke my heart. Just the same, I looked. I was not very familiar with the Coastal Humane Society’s website, but I noticed they had a special page for Hospice pets. These were pets that needed special care. The Hospice pets were free.
The Coastal Humane Society had one pet in the Hospice section of their site (that section is now called Senior and Special Needs Pets). It was a little dog that they named Mikey. The minute I saw him, my heart named him Puff because he was a cute little puff ball of hair. Puff needed a good home for his final days. He was not expected to live long. He had a long list of ailments including a bad heart, thyroid disease, tumors, cataracts, bad skin, and on top of all that, he was completely deaf. But Puff was free. I could afford free.
I called the shelter and they assured me Puff would not be a very long commitment. He would come to me with all the meds he needed to get him through his final days. All he needed was love. I figured I would not get overly attached to Puff and that I could handle his passing. And since he would only be around for a little while, I didn’t even need to bother calling my husband at work and asking him how he felt about me bringing another dog home. Instead, I jumped in the car and made the 60 mile trip to the shelter, with Cupcake and Scruffy in tow so they could meet their new brother.
The lady at the shelter handed Puff over to me and gave me his meds. She instructed me on how to care for him. Puff practically melted in my arms and I knew that it was too late… I was in love.
I brought Puff home, much to the surprise of both my elderly mother and my husband. I made Puff his own special bed. After inspecting his skin, I decided he’d be more comfortable shaved, so I shaved him. But, I left a puff of hair at the end of his tail so his name, Puff, still fit him. Then I pretty much watched and waited for him to die.
But, Puff didn’t die.
A month or so later, Puff was all out of meds. I took him to my vet and explained how I came to own this dog. My vet explained that Puff was very old, very ill and would probably just die in his sleep. He said he didn’t have long. I got more meds to get him through his extended final days and brought him home.
The longer I had Puff, the more lively he got. He went from being carried everywhere in a handbag to walking on his own on a leash. He ran and jumped like a little dear and loved to play with Cupcake and Scruffy. He love riding in the car and adored walking on the beach. He never left my side. If I got up to go into another room, he followed me. If I sat down to work, he laid in his bed near me. I had a bed for him in every room and one just beside my own bed in case he was too hot in my own bed. He was my constant companion, my shadow.
A little more than three years later, Puff finally let me know his final days were close. Very close. And I had to make the decision to take my dear dog to the vet to end his suffering. I cried for weeks. I put his urn of ashes under his favorite blanket so I could keep him warm. And I cried some more.
I swore that I’d never own another dog. Never. I was just too hard to accept losing them. But then two weeks ago, the Coastal Humane Society called. They had another special needs dog that needed a good home. I said no. NO. Plain and simple… the answer was no.
Moxie is a small black female Cocker Spaniel. The shelter named her Julia, but I said if I ever owned a black female dog, I’d name her Moxie. Moxie is laying on Puff’s favorite blanket as I write this. Moxie is my foster dog. She needs a special diet for the rest of her life, has terrible skin issues, and is almost blind. She follows me everywhere and I’m deeply in love. I have not figured out how to tell my husband and mother yet that Moxie is never going back to the shelter. All I know is she never will.
If you are considering adopting a dog, you really must check out the Coastal Humane Society in Brunswick. The shelter is awesome and they take the very best care of their pets. They have dogs, cats, and lots of small animals including rabbits, ferrets and even mice. One of their best features is their new, fully enclosed, outdoor play area for their cats.
The Coastal Humane Society is located at 30 Range Road in Brunswick, Maine. They also have satellite locations in other parts of Maine. They offer a wonderful Foster Program for those who would like to take in pets on a temporary basis. And if you would like to help the shelter in other ways, you can become a volunteer or you can check out their wish list to see what they need for donations.