Discarded Dog Rescued From Flood Knows Joy In Last Days

By Susan Pyatt-Baker, Foster Parent

My story about Almond starts with another foster, Dobby, who passed away on September 27, 2016, six weeks shy of his second birthday. He came to us at 4 months old with juvenile diabetes, and in the months leading up to his death he was diagnosed with an enlarged heart (both literally and figuratively). Dobby was a goofball, full of energy, sweetness, and love. Our home felt so empty without his big personality to fill it up.

I wanted another foster to fill the emptiness in my home and heart right away, but my sweet husband asked for more time to mourn. I waited, and didn’t open a single foster email from Brother Wolf so as not to be tempted. Then one day on facebook I ran across the video of dogs arriving at the Adoption Center from the floods in South Carolina.

I don’t know how many times I watched it and cried. Every bit of me was hurting to help, and my heart still breaks thinking about it now. Almond was the first shown in the video, but the one I was initially drawn to was a Cocker Spaniel with a damaged ear. I went home that evening, got up the nerve to show my husband the video, and he immediately said yes. Love him! I sent an email saying we would like to foster that dog, but learned she had already been placed. That’s when fate stepped in. Explaining the sweet and patient temperament of our dog Poppy, Tristan (Animal Behavior Manager) and Flo (former Foster Manager) suggested Almond.  

17 days after Dobby passed, I went to the Adoption Center to bring Almond home. She was in the meet and greet room, to keep her as calm and safe as possible while awaiting foster.
I pulled back a blanket on her crate, and there she was, incessantly biting at her itchy skin. She had little to no hair, she had heartworm disease, Cushing’s disease, and a mammary tumor that nearly touched the ground when she stood.

I talked to her, but she didn’t look up and just continued to bite at herself. The Kennel Supervisor, Brian, harnessed her, led her out to my car, and lifted her into the back seat. She walked cautiously with her head down and her tail between her legs.

She was pitiful and the look in her eyes was heartbreaking. I put classical music on the radio and talked sweetly to her on the drive home, telling her everything would be better now.

Better now came slowly but surely. Almond started taking medicine for Cushing’s disease. The itching stopped and she grew in a beautiful, thick, red coat. The medicine also gave her joint pain relief. Her gait became lighter and she started doing yoga, specifically upward facing dog. She went from having to be gently led off the couch to go outside to waiting by the door with Poppy. And she went from spending her time at the far end of the couch to resting her head on my lap or hanging out by my husband’s recliner for petting sessions. One day she barked at the cat, scared the living daylights out of my husband and the cat! She probably only barked 2 or 3 more times that we ever heard.

Eventually tail wags came with my arrival home, and a couple of times she added that sweet little “get over here and pet me quick” whine. She never got too brave exploring the house, keeping to the living room. She would only come just inside the kitchen for cheese.

One day though I was folding clothes in the bedroom and all of the sudden there she was wagging her tail and grinning like she was so proud of herself.  Almond was no longer pitiful. She was sweet and gentle and beautiful and loved.

When Almond started slowing down and showing signs of not feeling well, we took her to the vet. She was on pain medicine the last few weeks, so I like to think she didn’t suffer. She continued to go outside and eat and drink. She was just tired.

I put a mattress in the floor as an extra bed but also as a giant step to the couch since she could no longer jump up. The night before she passed she took her medicine but didn’t show any interest in dinner. At one point my husband said, “I think someone wants your attention.” Almond was sitting on the couch next to me, our eyes level.

I ran my hands over both sides of her sweet beautiful face, through that thick soft fur, and kissed her on the bridge of her nose where I always kissed her.

She eventually went to the mattress. I went with her and that’s where we spent the rest of the evening. When my husband went to work the next morning she was still laying on the mattress and he petted her goodbye. When I got up an hour later she had moved to her dog bed and was gone.

What Almond heard everyday:
“Good morning, sweetheart.”
“I love you, sweet girl.”
“You are the best girl.”
“Almond is the prettiest.”
“Good night, baby.”
“You are so beautiful.”
I hope she understood.




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