Alvin | 15

Alvin had the worst life I’ve ever heard of, yet he was the most good-natured dog I’ve ever had. The thing we miss the most: The way he walked without bending his legs and that his tail was always wagging.

Baby| 10

Baby was an amazing dog. She was sweet, funny, smart and had a calming vibe that is sorely missed. She loved belly rubs, treats and little dogs. We only had her for three months, not nearly enough time. I think of her and miss her every day.

Baby Rose | 13

Thrown out of a car that was going 30 miles an hour, Baby Rose’s bones healed but she had a severe head injury and wasn’t quite “there.” But she had the sweetest spirit. She was in the “witness protection program.” She was prophecized by my son when he was very young, so we were expecting her. What we miss the most: Baby Rose would come and rub her head all over you once she found you.

Bruno | 16

January 20, 2016 It with my heart shattered in a million pieces that I tell you we lost our sweet Bruno earlier today. We tried so hard to save him, but it just wasn’t in the cards. He spent most of the day yesterday at the vet’s office, getting IV fluids, antibiotics and receiving other treatments, but to no avail. So we brought him home last night and held him and kissed him. He got to sleep one more night in the bed next to Erik. And even though I was hoping for some sort of miracle (they do occasionally happen around here) when I looked in his eyes this morning, I could tell, even though his heart was beating and his lungs still breathing, that my baby was no longer there…like walking into a room and smelling just a hint of perfume long after your beloved has left. We’ve only had Bruno since October. Not long enough for a dog so sweet, so wise, so magnificent. But I also know a hundred years wouldn’t have been enough time. So I feel blessed for every day I had with him. And though I only had him a short four months, I felt like I had always known him. I felt like he had always been a part of our family. Like a loved one who has returned home from a very long holiday. When he came here it wasn’t like he was a “new” unknown dog, it was like his spirit had always been here. I had always known him, I had always loved him. Bruno came from a shelter where he was an owner surrender. I don’t like to judge people, and I have no idea why someone would willingly choose to let Bruno go, but I do know the Universe works in mysterious ways and he was just making his way back home. I’m eternally thankful that Bruno wasn’t euthanized on a cold, hard table in place where nobody knew his favorite bed to sleep in, his favorite food to eat, the way he felt cuddled in your arms, the smell of him. Bruno obviously hadn’t had an easy life. He came to us from a shelter where his family didn’t care enough to keep him. He was missing his front leg, though we never knew why. He was suffering from some intestinal issues and was very thin and his coat was in horrible shape. Yet, despite all of this, he was loving, sweet, quiet, grateful and magnificent. He was beautiful in every way, yet a bit elusive. I sensed he might not be here for long. Sometimes we get dogs and they seem a bit like a shadow, as if they are leaving, and I feel so grateful that I’m the one that gets to see them off. That they get to leave this life with someone who knows their favorite bed, who has cooked their favorite food, who has a special place in their arms for them, and who will always remember how they felt and how they smelled. People always ask me how I can do this work. How I can deal with the painful losses that happen on a regular basis. And though I’m typing this with my heart shattered into a million pieces, I have ten million lovely memories that will mend my broken heart. And I’m always better for it. More capable of saving and loving even more old souls. I would rather have my heart broken from loving so much, than have it broken from never having loved at all. Godspeed my sweet, sweet Bruno. When I look back and think of my family, you will always be there. My love and devotion to you will always be here. To quote John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “All you need is love.” Indeed.

Champ | 18

What can I say about Champ? Champ is a 17-year-old mutt…any guesses? If we were ever going to do a DNA test on anyone, it would be Champ. Champ loves to eat. That is about it. His whole world revolves around food. He makes these little chirping /moaning sounds while he eats…we call them his “lovey noises.” Pure pleasure…this how much he loves his food. Champ is mostly blind, so if you reach down to pet him he opens his mouth just like a baby bird expecting to be fed. Champ’s hobby is sleeping in the hallway right in front of the gate so that you have to jump over him to get through. He also loves to lay in front of the closet door so you have to push him out of the way if you want to get something (he doesn’t even wake up when you do this). One time we left the gate open and he fell asleep on top of the gate. He’s very talented in that way. Champ is also deaf. Waking him up takes an Act of God. Every time I try to wake him I’m just sure this time he’s really dead. I’ve taken to carrying a little mirror with me at all times to check for breathing. My husband wanted to shave his fur so he would look like a lion, but because of the abuse he endured, Champ can’t grow any fur on his neck. So his mane is on his shoulders.

Betsy | 18

Betsy came from a puppy mill where she populated most of Texas with dachshunds. We actually ended up with two of her offspring, Orville and Zelda. Betsy lived in the kitchen cabinet. What we miss the most: Seeing her jump out of her cabinet and grab ANYTHING that you would drop on the floor. She was like a trap-door spider. She would also jump out to stop any fighting, or playing. She had a no tolerance for rough-housing policy.

Chico | 14

Chico was a 14-year-old Chihuahua from New Mexico. Chico fell on some hard luck when his owner died and he ended up in a very high-kill shelter. Thanks to the efforts of many volunteers and rescues, Chico made his way to the Sanctuary. Shortly after arriving we realized Chico only understood Spanish. Chico was missing one eye, his penis was permanently sticking out, he had bad arthritis in his shoulder and he had no tail. But the biggest issue he had was his attitude…it was bad. He hated my son Oliver and he spent hours plotting his next ankle bite. But he could also be the sweetest little guy in the world. What we miss the most: Just his feisty personality all packed into a tiny five-pound body. He was fearless.

Claude | 12

Claude had an amazing HUGE personality for a little, chubby Chihuahua. Claude was the ultimate hoarder and I’d often see him running through the house carrying something in his mouth he wasn’t supposed to have. If you gave him a milk bone he wouldn’t eat it, he’d guard it for days on end. What we miss the most: Claude would lick my arm for hours at bedtime. I miss that. I also enjoyed looking at the hoard he had in his bed. It was like Big Bird’s nest. Always interesting to see what you could find. Rocks, milk jug caps, dryer sheets, your car keys…

Cheeky | 15

RIP Sweet Cheeky Little Cheeky died yesterday morning at our home (thank you everyone) in my arms. She had only been with us since July, and I don’t feel like I truly got to know her very well since she was already suffering from a bit of dementia when she got here. What I do know about her is that she was a very sweet girl, loved eating and loved her little friend Gordon. She liked sleeping in every bed in the house and she loved my husband Erik. I feel like every dog that comes into my life is there for a reason. I always try to learn what they are there to teach. When we only have a dog for a brief amount of time, it can be harder to find the lesson through the grief of losing them too soon. But two things come to mind when I think about Cheeky. Animal rescue is hard work. It can really take a toll on you, and it can certainly test your faith in humanity. With dogs like Cheeky, the ones who only live a few months in my care, I always wish they could have died with their owner. It isn’t that this is a bad place, or that they weren’t fond of me, but dogs are loyal creatures, and if they have spent the majority of their life with someone who promised to take care of them, it breaks my heart they have to be taken away from that one person. We loved Cheeky, but I felt like she should have died with the woman who had her almost her entire life. I am eternally grateful that I was there for her, but I had the unsettling feeling that I was doing someone else’s job. And it breaks my heart over and over again. I get countless emails from people wanting to get rid of their pets. Every single day. Pets that are elderly. Pets that are ill. Pets that are completely normal. Pets with special needs. There are a multitude of excuses. “I’m moving.” “I’m having a baby.” “Someone developed an allergy.” “They peed on the carpet.” “They don’t get along with my other dogs.” “They are too old.” “I don’t have enough time.” I think I have probably heard every reason in the world of why people have to get rid of their animal. Certainly there are circumstances where rehoming an animal cannot be avoided, but let me tell you, these are just a tiny percentage of the emails I receive. It makes me wonder about loyalty. About commitment. About love. It makes me question people. It saddens, angers and bewilders me. Over and over. I’ve moved several times, I’ve had a baby, I’ve had dogs that are aggressive, dogs that fight, dogs that require 24/7 care, dogs that destroy things, we’ve dealt with allergies, behavioral issues, incontinence…the list goes on and on. It is possible to do. I feel like some people treat their animals like they were a couch. When it gets old and doesn’t match the new décor, get rid of it. You can always get a new one. A puppy. I try not to be judgey, but this is my life, and I deal with this every single day. It’s hard not to get up on my soap box. Cheeky dying here with me instead of her life long owner brought all this up for me. But let me tell you something else. Just when I think there is no such thing as lifetime commitment and unwavering loyalty, and that people just plain suck…something beautiful happens. Cheeky was rescued by a dear friend of mine in Texas when her owner was going to have to take her to a high-kill shelter in Texas. My friend stepped up and helped her, out of the kindness of her heart, nothing else. Then another thing happened. An entire group of people got together and worked tirelessly to help get Cheeky to our Sanctuary in Colorado. People who didn’t know me, or know Cheeky, but just people who wanted to see Cheeky go to a place where she could be safe and happy. Then when I let people know that Cheeky wasn’t doing well and I wanted to have her euthanized at home, an expensive request, so many people stepped up and donated money, shared the post and sent their thoughts and prayers to me and Cheeky. I am always overwhelmed by the support of my family and friends, and also from complete strangers who help me help these old dogs. It restores my faith in humanity. So many people are so supportive of our mission and of my dogs. Sometimes I just sit and cry as I read the beautiful comments you send to me. I feel your encouragement, love and support and it nurtures and sustains me. Cheeky brought out this overwhelming generosity. She brought all of us together. She showed us the best of ourselves. The parts of us that help each other, the parts of us that love and share. This was her gift to me, and to you. So my lesson, sweet Cheeky, is that there is loyalty, unwavering commitment, generosity and an abundance of love, it just might not always come from the place you think it ought to. The good always outshines the bad. I will continue to try to change the world because of little old dogs like you, who make everything worthwhile. We love you sweetie. Godspeed.

Ernie | 12

Ernie was a 12 year old…well…dog. Ernie came by way of another rescue who pulled him from a county shelter. Ernie was a strange thing…very long body, long gray fur, a tremendous underbite and a strangely shaped head. The bone on top of his skull is sort of like the dorsal fin on a fish. He may have been part Sleestak. Ernie holds the record for carrying a Milk Bone in his mouth but not eating it. Eleven hours. What we miss the most: He had the most mournful howl I’ve ever heard. I used to curse it, came to accept it…now I miss it.

Duke | 15

Duke was mean and loved to bite me and my husband, sometimes even drawing blood, but he never once tried to bite my son, Oliver. He got on the kitchen table and ate two dozen triple chocolate cookies and didn’t get sick. He ruined the cookie exchange I was having at my work, but I was just happy that he didn’t die. Well, after a few days I was happy he didn’t die. What we miss the most: That incessant beagle barking and baying. But just because I miss it doesn’t mean I want to repeat it. I now have a no beagle policy.

Clementine | 16

What we know:
Clementine is a three pound, 13-15 year old Pomeranian. She came from a shelter where she had been picked up as a stray. She is mostly blind, has no teeth and some issues with her hips and back legs. She is very mellow and makes howling cat/demon baby noises when she’s hungry.

What we learned after a session with a world renowned pet psychic:
Nobody knows how old Clementine is, and it’s impolite to ask, but it’s common knowledge that in 1844 she pulled 18-year-old Jessie Janet Woodrow off of the bridge she was about to fling herself off of, saving her life. She told Jessie it wasn’t her time yet. 12 years later, Jessie gave birth to a son. She named him Woodrow and he was to become the 28th President of the United States. In 1946, while vacationing in the UK, Clementine created The Mensa Society with two random people she met while waiting for a bus. Decades later, those two random people changed the course of the history of the world and Clementine was the only one to know it was them. Clementine’s favorite job was from 1982 to 1996 when she was hired to be Jon Bon Jovi’s hair. Clementine knows a lot and talks only when absolutely necessary. Clementine is the only entity on earth that can keep a secret.

Edgar | 17 - Walden | 15

Edgar – 17 years old Edgar had the worst dementia I had ever seen. He would circle for days if you let him. The thing we miss the most: On the rare occasions when he did sleep, he would snuggle into my neck.

Walden – 15 years old Walden came from a horrible puppy mill with Edgar. Walden was very suspicious of everyone and only loved me. What we miss the most: Walden had the thickest, softest fur I’ve ever felt.

Fleur | 12

Fleur was a 12-year-old, thin, leggy, beautiful Chihuahua. We only had her for two months before she died of heart failure. Fleur was a calm, dignified girl who was very quiet for a Chihuahua. She enjoyed batting her eyelashes, hardly eating a thing and being very demure (just like a French girl). What we miss the most: Those giant, watery eyes and her sweet, sweet spirit.

Flora | 18

Flora was awesome, she had an attitude and could back it up. She was fearless. Well, almost fearless. She was terrified of the camera flash. What we miss the most: How she kept all the other dogs in line. She’d jump up, run across the room and grab a dog by the neck if they were being a jerk. She wouldn’t hurt them, but she made her point.

Folgers | 14

Folgers was my first dachshund, inspiring me to work in dachshund rescue for several years. He was probably the only normal dachshund I ever had. The thing we miss the most: Folgers could do high fives while standing up on his back legs, and he liked to suck on his stuffed pencil.

Francis | 17

Francis was a huge (read: not tall) sweet poodle. He was very old and not quite there. Or perhaps he was everywhere all at once. We will never know for sure. But sometimes he would just stand in the middle of a room for hours. What we miss the most: His resilience and determination to live. He liked it here and was going to stay NO MATTER WHAT.

Franny | 6

Sweet Franny was a puppy mill dog. She survived having an emergency c-section with a pocket knife in a dirty trailer with no anesthetic. But because she wasn’t any good at giving birth, the Miller was going to kill her. But I got to her first… What we miss the most: Franny would scratch you to get your attention. She’d scratch at me first thing in the morning to wake me up. I hated it at the time, but I’d do anything to have her here scratching me again.

George | 15

George had an amazing personality. Towards the end of his life we fostered a mama who had five puppies. George loved those puppies more than ANYTHING and we are sure that they extended his life for several months. He was like their grandpa. He died a very, very happy dog. He WAS the puppy whisperer. What we miss the most: George had a severe collapsing trachea. He coughed all the time. I miss that cough. I miss you my sweetie.

Gordon | 17

Gordon died this morning. Clementine died last Sunday. Cheeky died a few weeks before that. Stanley a few weeks before Cheeky. I’m devastated, raw, heartbroken. But what I am most of all is angry. Who is Gordon you might ask? I ask myself the same question. The Gordon I knew was sweet, vulnerable, just a small very old dog. He just needed a soft bed. He needed food and water. He was really no trouble. When I got Gordon he was a like a shadow. He was already leaving. I knew this when I first met him. He just needed someone to help him on his way. That someone was me. And believe me, I am happy to do it. It is sacred work that I feel blessed and humbled to be entrusted with. But I’m still angry. I’m angry because when Gordon’s first owner died, he ended up in a rescue. The woman who fostered Gordon decided she wanted to adopt him. To be his forever home. She made the promise and the commitment to love him for the rest of his life or hers. He was already old when she adopted him…he was 12. She must have thought about what it meant to adopt an older guy like him. But when he started showing signs of mild dementia (some circling, nothing severe) and some housetraining issues…she dumped him back at the rescue she originally got him from. She couldn’t handle it. She couldn’t deal with it. But then what happened? The rescue couldn’t handle it either. They just weren’t equipped to deal with an old dog, though they request that all dogs adopted from them be returned to them…though I’m not sure why if they can’t handle an old dog. So I took him. Because I could handle him. This isn’t a unique situation. I have the majority of my dogs because people dumped them at shelters for a variety of lame reasons, and because other rescues just don’t seem to be able to handle an old or terminally ill dog. But l’ll let you in on a secret. I’m not some miracle worker. I’m not somehow better or more capable than you. I have a life, too. I have a husband, a son who is still in elementary school. I have dozens of other dogs that are also very old, sick and have special needs. I still have to do things like the dishes, the laundry, help my son with his homework, make his lunch, go to band concerts, school parties and events. I don’t get paid to run the Sanctuary, so I have to try to make money on the side to try to pay my personal bills, in addition to fundraising and running the Sanctuary so I can make sure the needs of the dogs are taken care of. I also have to try to be a decent wife, and keep up on my friendships. I have to try to help the neediest of old, sick dogs that end up at the shelters. I have to field dozens of emails a day of people trying to dump their animals at my shelters. Most days I’m up for it. Today I’m not. As I sat on the bedroom floor this morning while Gordon was having one seizure after another in my arms, I could only think that even though I only had him several months, I was more his real mom than the woman who had him for five years. Because no matter what, I was going to be there for him. Until the end. Mine or his. And there is never any doubt in this. I try not to judge, I try not to be angry…but today I am. I’m sick of people giving up their animals. Because you can’t deal with your dog getting older, I have to. Because you think you are too busy and your carpet is too nice and that you couldn’t possibly handle putting a diaper on a dog, I’m sitting on the bedroom floor covered in dog urine, with a seizing dog on my lap, giving liquid valium and crying over the loss of another dog. Because you couldn’t do your fucking job. Because you couldn’t follow through on your commitment. Because you made this someone else’s problem. Because you think it somehow isn’t your responsibility. I know, I know…you’re moving, you had a baby, your dogs don’t get along, you developed an allergy, your dog has become too expensive, you don’t have the time for him. Whatever it is you have going on isn’t fair to the dog. Well I’m here to tell you that it IS your responsibility and that no matter how overwhelmed, heartbroken, angry or fatigued I am, I can look at myself in the mirror every morning. I don’t know how you can. I can honestly say that I have done everything I possibly ever thought I could, and then some. I know that even when I think I can’t handle anymore, I can and I do. Because when I tell these old dogs that I am here for them, I am HERE for them. I love them. And when you love someone it means you are there no matter what. Is it fun staying up all night? Is it fun watching someone you love so much start to fade away? Is it fun having your heart broken over and over again? No. But is it worth it? Absolutely. Does each life and death make me into a better, stronger and more capable person? Yes, it does. If you know me at all, even just through social media you’ll understand this sort of post isn’t typical for me. I rarely lash out like this, but I guess everyone has a breaking point. Dumping animals has become an epidemic. I don’t understand it. I will never understand it. But I will pick myself up, grab a Kleenex, lock myself in the bathroom to cry for 20 minutes and then I’ll get back to it. All you need is love.

Henry | 15

Henry was a deaf, blind dachshund from an abusive puppy mill. Henry was so quiet. I never heard him make one noise in the entire time we had him here. He spoke by wagging his tail. He was the only silent dachshund in the history of the world. If you have doxies you know what I’m talking about. What I miss the most: His quiet, calm spirit. He was never any trouble at all. He lived in the closet with Zelda, they were best friends.

Hershey | 15

Hershey was a grumpy old man. He was dumped by his original family and never recovered – let me say it again, people suck. But he did recover from a serious case of heartworms. The thing we miss the most: His giant soft feet.

Howard | 16

Howard was a 16 year old Shih Tzu from a shelter where he came in as a stray. He was so horribly matted that it took them two days just to shave him. When they shaved his face they realized one of his eyes had ruptured and that he was blind in the other. Howard was also deaf and suffered from dementia. The thing we miss the most: Just seeing his little body curled up in his heated bed and the sound of him barking at his dinner. Yep, he didn’t really like to eat it, he preferred barking at it.

Lazlo | 16

Lazlo was another puppy mill dog that had never been around people. He was pretty much terrified of us. We let him have his own couch where we wouldn’t disturb him. What we miss the most: He would follow me everywhere at quite a distance. He wouldn’t let me touch him, but it was his way of showing he cared. About a week before he died, he finally trusted me enough to take a treat out of my hand.

Hugo | 15

We rescued Hugo in honor of our sweet Howard. Hugo was a 15 year old Jack Russell terrier mix. He was found wandering alone in the desert. He was deaf, mostly blind and covered in tumors. He was also very chubby. Which was mostly just tumors, but that’s okay, we don’t judge. His favorite thing to do was eat. And eat. And eat. And then take a nap so he’ll have more energy to eat. What we miss the most: How happy he was when you gave him a milk bone. It’s the little things.

June | 19
Melvin | 20

What can I say about Melvin? He was a very bright light in our lives. We didn’t say, “What would Jesus do?” we said, “What would Melvin do?” And the answer was always, “something really loving and awesome.” Melvin holds the title of “Best Dog Ever.” Melvin was a 20-year-old mutt of some sort. He was sweet, smart and radiated love like a giant sun. Melvin ended up at a county shelter at the age of 16 when his owners decided they didn’t have time for him anymore. They had owned him since he was a baby. Well, their loss was our gain. Living with and caring for Melvin was an honor, a privilege, and a joy. What I miss the most: Just the loving look in his eyes and the way his tail was always wagging. Melvin had a beautiful aura about him and he is deeply missed.

Orville | 15

Orville was a 15 year old dachshund from a horrible puppy mill in Texas. Orville had a nasty disposition (we loved him dearly for it). He was blind and had diabetes. He loved fighting and spent a lot of time barking at the wall thinking it was another dog. What we miss the most: The barking, the fighting. The barking, the fighting. The fighting, the barking.

Lenore | 17

Lenore was MEAN. She’d try to bite your hand off if you reached for her. Luckily, she had terrible aim and we loved her despite her nasty disposition. What we miss the most: Cleaning around her little curled up body. She wouldn’t EVER lay on a blanket or bed, just right in the middle of the kitchen floor. She is the closest thing we’ve ever had to the legendary, mythical Chupacabra (goat blood-sucking vampire dog.) So far. Tomorrow is always a new day…

Leo | 12

We only had Leo a short time, but he made a huge impression. I had the distinct feeling we’d met before. What we miss the most: Leo would jump from the floor into my arms when I came home. He had a normal sized eye and a little eye. They were both beautiful.

Mildred | 14

So I can barely even think about Mildred without falling to pieces. Mildred was a tiny paralyzed Chihuahua, she was everything to me. She walked like Bambi when he was first born. He legs just got all tangled and she’d fall over. So I carried her everywhere. What I miss the most: Just having her constant company. The way she looked at me like I was the best thing ever. Her tiny useless feet

Jasper | 3
Norman | 22

Norman is a 22 year old terrier mix. Norman came to us via another rescue. Norman is quite the “little old man.” He teeters when he walks and frequently forgets where he is, but he is the happiest guy in the world. Every time you let him in from the yard he acts like not only are you his all-time favorite person in the world, but that he hasn’t seen you in years…and you’re holding a steak in your hands for him to eat. Norman’s life’s work is to figure out how to get into the chicken run and eat all of the chicken poop. Norman is yet another dog who thinks he can jump further than he really can. Sometimes it is sad, like if he takes a header on the back porch step, but most of the time there is no injury involved and it is hilarious.

Possum | 14

Possum wasn’t a little dog, but he was very old. He had terrible arthritis and barked nonstop during the dinner time “window” which could be anywhere from 3-9 p.m. We often made him his own version of what we were having so he shut up long enough for us to gobble down our food quickly so we didn’t have to listen to him go on and on and on.Possum hated all the other dogs for the most part but LOVED my husband, Erik. Possum was abandoned in an apartment by his previous owners and ended up in the shelter. My theory is that one night during dinner they ran screaming from their home from Possum’s incessant barking…never to return. What we miss the most: I miss having to step over him every time I came in the front door.

Rosie | 13

Rosie was a 13 year old Rat Terrier. She came to us from a shelter in Wyoming. Rosie had terminal cancer, so we brought her here to live out her days. They told us she had six months to two years and we had her for two and a half…we were lucky. Rosie had this eerie way of staring intently right into your eyes. She could do it for hours. It is as if she could see into your soul. It could be a bit creepy. Sort of “Children of the Corn” creepy. Being a rat terrier she spent her time stalking tiny Chester. You have to admit, he does look a bit like a rat. We thought about getting her a real rat to kill (or maybe just letting her have Wilkie) as a send off before she died, but thought better of it. (You know I’m just kidding, right?) What we miss the most…just always seeing her there. She was always right by my side.

Peabody | 7

Peabody was a medical miracle…in the way that he had every ailment imaginable. He was epileptic, diabetic, paralyzed…just to name a few. The thing we miss the most: Before Pea was paralyzed he would sit up on his butt and frantically wave his arms in the air to get your attention.

Seymour | 14

Seymour was the most fearful dog I’ve ever met. He was also the most gentle and soulful. He had a bad case of vasculitis resulting in having his ears and tail amputated. So he was a fearful dachshund with no ears and no tail…yes, he was the most beautiful thing in the world. What we miss the most: When he was happy, he would jump in his bed and throw his blanket around in joy.

Simon | 20

Simon was literally moments away from being put down when I walked into the shelter and got him. Simon was such a smart dog. He was completely blind, but would still fetch his tennis ball and bring it back to you, no matter how long it took him to find it. And then, instead of giving it to you, he would destroy it. His record for shredding a brand name “indestructible” tennis ball was 17 seconds. What we miss the most: Simon walked in this “high-stepping” way. I miss seeing him exploring the house. He loved guarding and taking naps with Oliver.

Stanley | 19
  • I had to say goodbye to one of my best friends in the whole world this morning. My constant companion, one of the loves of my life. My beautiful beloved little Stanley. I feel like I am drowning this morning, like I’m not sure how to do this. If you’ve ever met me, or even if you haven’t, you may know how devoted I am to Stanley. My life revolved around him. I had Stanley for four years, he was 15 when he came here, 19 when he left this morning. Before I knew Stanley, I had a tiny paralyzed Chihuahua named Mildred. I loved Mildred fiercely, and losing her was really, really difficult. I remember wanting to get another dog just like her. A little dog that really needed me. Mildred was hopelessly devoted to me; I was her entire world. I thought I needed another dog just like her (I know, it sounds ridiculous, but grief does strange things to a person). So I went out looking for another Mildred. But as we all know, the Universe always sends us what we need, whether we agree with it or not. I can remember the very moment when I saw Stanley for the very first time. He was arriving on a transport from a shelter in Grand Junction. Stanley had been picked up as a stray. When the transport pulled up they parked right next to my car. In the front passenger seat of the van, one of the transport volunteers was holding Stanley on his lap. I remember Stanley’s little pointed nose, his tiny mouth that was always open a bit, and his giant ears that always reminded me of bat ears. The transport volunteer said Stanley was making such a fuss in the kennel that he decided just to hold him. He handed little Stanley over to me and I felt something in me awaken. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced love at first sight, but this was that and much, much more. I felt like I had known him my whole life. I felt like we had always just been waiting to find each other again. And this morning I feel like that again. Like we begin making our way back to each other again. And Stanley was nothing like Mildred. He wasn’t helpless, affectionate or needy. He was brave, independent and a bit aloof. Nothing like I was expecting…but he was everything my soul needed. A few months after Stanley came to live here I took in a terminally ill rat terrier named Rosie. Rosie was a big, beautiful bossy thing. She didn’t care much for the other dogs but she LOVED Stanley. And she was the first dog Stanley had shown any interest in. Stanley used to stand on top of Rosie since he was just a fraction of her size, and lick her head. Rosie protected Stanley and he was the only dog who she allowed near her. We lost Rosie a year ago, this morning I took a bit of comfort in knowing they were together again. In the last year Stanley had gone completely blind, was deaf and started having seizures. But he was still so brave. He was so tiny and frail and vulnerable, but so strong. Who could have known that this little, plain brown stray Chihuahua was to be such a delight? Able to heal my broken heart and bring a joy and meaning to my life that I never expected. Stanley always made me feel like a better person. Like he believed in the best version of me, and I lived up to that. He found what was locked up inside of me. He made me feel courageous and true. Stanley started to decline in the last month. He started having more frequent seizures. I stayed with him all the time. I never left the house. I was completely devoted to him. I knew he was going to leave and I was determined to have it happen in the best way possible. Stanley died here at home in my arms while he was sleeping. When I told my son about Stanley dying this morning, this is what he said to me. He said that he had been learning about death and that the brain is the last thing to die. That it just keeps on thinking and if that were true, then he was sure Stanley was thinking about me. I have spent this morning thinking of what Stanley was like when he was a puppy, or a young dog. I think of him with his dog mom, running and playing and frolicking. It is such a sweet thought; it makes my heart keep beating when I think it is broken beyond repair. I feel grateful that I was entrusted with such a special life. It taught me an important lesson. Always be open to what comes to you. Don’t try to control what you think you need. Reach out and help…whether it be a little old dog, a neighbor, a stranger. You will think you are the one giving, but then you realize you are really on the receiving end. Godspeed sweet Stanley. This isn’t goodbye. Love will keep us together. I love you little guy.
Truman | 5

Truman was the most regal, human-like dog I’ve ever had. He was a Great Pyrenees, our guard dog. He took his job very seriously. Truman died too young from osteosarcoma. What we miss the most: Just his presence. He was larger-than-life. He had this “fuck you” look he would give on occasion when you wanted him to do something he didn’t want to do. It always made me smile.

Vincent | 21

So Vincent ended up at the shelter at the ripe old age of 20 because his owners could no longer care for him. He’s three pounds, so I’m not sure what kind of care he really required. People suck. Vincent has a birth defect affecting his back legs. They are all curled up, which causes him to walk much like a bat will walk on their wings. Sort of creepy…so I named him Vincent after my all time favorite horror film actor, Vincent Price. But don’t feel sorry for Vincent, he can really get around! Little Vincent weighs in at a whopping 3.5 lbs. He is enjoying his new life of canned puppy food, chicken and cheese, being carried around in a baby sling and sleeping on the bed under the electric blanket at night. Vincent is sort of a little bastard (he LOVES to fight) but he and Erik and madly in love.

Walter | 21

Walter was quite a character. He was very entitled and believed he deserved everything and then some. His old owner chewed his food for him (hot dogs and cottage cheese), so you can see why he might of thought this. What I miss the most: The way he would pop off the ground when he barked like a low-rider car. He would also try to jump, making it only an inch off the ground, but he believed he could jump up anywhere. When we got Walter, we were told that at the very most he would live for 6 more months. Five years later…

Willoughby | 10

Willoughby was a 10-year-old Shiba Inu who we rescued from a hoarding/neglect case. Willoughby was mostly blind, hard of hearing, only had three legs and was suffering from a severe case of starvation and muscle wasting. Unfortunately, we only had Willoughby for a few months before he died. He had a large tumor on his heart and a probable brain tumor. Willoughby had a guardian angel who purchased him some wheels so he could walk again. Those wheels are now “Willoughby’s Wheels” and will help other dogs at the sanctuary. What we miss the most: Just his sweetness, he was always wagging his tail and happy despite what his life had been like. So quit your whining.

Ludi | 17