Will you take care of my dog when I can’t?
An older gentleman recently made his way up the short stairway and entered The Dirty Doodle. He was dressed casually and walked with a measured step, but had a sense of purpose in his alert eyes. Tom was a self-proclaimed talker and quickly charmed all at The Doodle.
We learned he was born in 1919, one of 8 children. His father died when the youngest was 6 months old, his mother seven years later in a car accident. Neighbors helped raise the family, but the children were on their own through the Depression. ”In those days neighbors took care of each other,” he said, “so you were never really without help.” The day after Pearl Harbor, he enlisted and spent the next three years fighting the Japanese in the Pacific, a living representative of the Greatest Generation. Now, he lives in a condominium complex.
Tom was looking to book an appointment with the groomer for his Lhasa Apso and had mistakenly come to The Doodle. We directed him to a local groomer and as we chatted with him Colleen from Sweet Paws Rescue arrived with Willie, an overweight Dachshund that has been in the news, highlighting the plight of elderly dog owners who can no longer care for their beloved pets due to diminishing health or long-term sickness.
Karyn filled Tom in on Willie’s situation. Tom listened intently, his sharp eyes never leaving Karyn’s face. He was thoughtful as Karyn finished, looked at both of us and said, “It gets very hollow talking to four walls. People leave in the morning and come home at night. No one notices you, no one talks to you… I talk to my pup all the time.”
His pup is a rescued Lhasa Apso, blind and seven-years-old. Karyn told him to come to The Doodle with his pup to have coffee with us and talk the day away. She even promised to give his pup a spa day. Tom was delighted and with a smile told us we may regret inviting him to talk.
As Karyn helped him down the stairs on his way out, he turned to her and in a low voice asked, “Will you take care of my dog when I die?
Sweet Paws Rescue is setting up systems to help with this heart-wrenching question, which was brought to the forefront by Willie and his owner. They are preparing systems to identify and respond to the needs of the elderly and the disabled and their pets. The Dirty Doodle is completely committed to work with Sweet Paws in this endeavor. Stay tuned for updates on this important project.
In this non-stop world where we are all so busy, we must stop to pay tribute to thousands of rescuers who selflessly act on behalf of the helpless. They help restore the core of our humanity, presenting a model for decency and true community, like the one Tom grew up in.
As for Tom, we told him yes, we will take care of his pup, and we know thousands of people who will help.