Willie is a very old dog who was found wandering alone, hungry, and in pain, on the Taghum bridge in early March of 2012. He initially went to the SPCA, however he needed major dental surgery and lots of TLC, so KAAP decided to take him in. He was seen by the vet, and he desperately needed a full dental, which included removing some very badly rotten teeth, and cleaning up his whole mouth. He had bad skin, and was in obvious pain, likely from arthritis. KAAP was able to find him a great foster home. Willie spent hours just wandering and pacing around, and would settle for only short periods of time. He had difficulty even navigating the rim of his dog bed, and couldn't seem to get comfortable. He really didn't show any emotions, and didn't seem to really be happy or aware of his surroundings. He didn't seem to be able to hear, and his eyes were showing the first signs of cataracts. After a few weeks in foster care, with much love and kind care from his foster moms, he seemed to become aware of his people, and wanted to be within eye sight of them. He began to trust, and show affection.
In early April, he was moved to his second ( and final) foster home at my house. Here again, he didn't seem to have much attachment to me, and would wander and pace literally all the time, only settling exhausted in his bed in my bedroom after a body massage and several trips up and down the hall ways. He was put on some really good pain medicine, and slowly he began to feel better and limp less. He still wasn't sure of what my hands were going to do when I reached to pet his head, and he would "freeze" and stand really still. He didn't seem too sure what to do on grass, and would just stand and stare into space, until I led him back into the house. He had no "leash sense" and would just run to and fro seemingly confused.
I've often wondered what kind of life Willie had before he was found and taken in by KAAP. Was he a breeder dog? Puppy mill dog? Or just an old dog that maybe just wasn't wanted any more. Whatever the case, his story has a happy ending. After 5 months, Willie has now gained some weight. His teeth don't hurt any more, and he doesn't limp. And best of all? He gets all excited when I come home, and he reaches his head to my hands, knowing that they mean only a good chin scratch or a nice body massage. He plays fetch, albeit a very short game, before he needs to lay his old body down for a rest, but at least he is acting like a dog. He enjoys short walks, and he now enjoys sniffing bushes and marking his territory. He doesn't hear, but he sees pretty well, and he is much more confident and secure than he was when we got him. He heads to his bed for his bed time treats and his kisses, settles in, and sleeps peacefully all night long.
Willie has also become quite the "poster child" for rescue, especially here in Castlegar. Many times, we've been in the pet store, or the park, and people have said "Is that Willie?" He gets many ooos and awws and head scratches. The vendors at the Farmer's market bring him treats for our Saturday visits. He was recently the "star" at a KAAP fundraising concert, where many people heard his story and became aware of stories like his that aren't very nice or happy, and the need for rescue organizations like KAAP. Everyone wants the best for this little man.
Willie is a very old dog. No one can predict how long he will live. But what's important here is that Willie is comfortable, well fed and well loved, and he trusts human beings. Dogs live in the present so when his time comes to cross to the Rainbow Bridge, he will go there with only love and trust in his old heart and not memories of whatever his past held.
To me, Willie is the epitome of what KAAP is all about. Giving all animals, young or old, a chance to have the very best life they can have while here on earth.
** On July 10th, 2013, Willie's old body gave in to his health problems and he passed away peacefully in my arms at the vet clinic.
RIP Willie, we love you and will always remember you. You inspired many people to pay attention to rescue