The Ties That Bind

By on 3 October, 2014 in Lynne Burford, Pets with 1 Comment

photoThe sadness of a senior citizen having to find a new home for the dog he loved for 14 years is heavy on my heart today.

My rescue was asked to take in a senior dog who belongs to a senior citizen who has been forced to move and who cannot take or find family to care for his dog. And my heart breaks. My volunteer went to pick the dog up. His owner, Mr. Parker, met her at the door with tears streaming down his face. He handed over Barron, his min-pin, and a small bag. He turned and closed the door.

My friend took the precious dog to the car, settled him into a pet bed with a blanket, and opened the bag. Inside was a harness, a retractable leash (very used) and two pieces of paper.

One was a small note which said “Barron loves to walk. This leash has held us together over many miles.” She felt her own eyes fill up.

The title on top of the other piece of paper was “Words that Barron Knows.” Sit, Stay. Treat, dinner, down. Cow. Deer. Horse. I love you. And her heart broke.

As a rescue director, I could not leave this man and his dog with no hope. It is life changing enough to have to leave your home, but to have to give up your dog – your constant companion for 14 years – to a stranger, because you have no other option? Not acceptable. Not morally okay, not ethically okay. I will not be a part of ending a relationship such as this.

For now, Barron is in my home, being fed and being cared for. I know now that dogs mourn. And that they cry. And that their hearts break too. Because of this, we are searching for a permanent foster for Barron near the town where his owner will be living, so that these two gentlemen can continue to spend time together. And they can talk about deer. And cows. And sit. And treat. And I love you. I will not stop networking until this is accomplished. I will work to keep these two together.

Do you know of a senior citizen who has a dearly loved pet? Do you know if they have a plan for their pet should circumstances require that they move to a place where pets are not allowed? This is something family members need to make arrangements for – and if not family members, friends who see the love between the human and the four-legged should encourage discussion and try to help make a plan. Quite often, these bonds are incredibly life-supporting on both sides. The knowledge that there is someone waiting to help lessen the transition should offer some small amount of comfort.

Several rescues are supporting a “Seniors for Seniors” foster or adoption plan, which might mean that other seniors would have an opportunity to help care for the pets of fellow seniors who cannot. What a win-win situation that could be! Others are seeking families who might foster or adopt the pet and who would be willing to take the pet to visit its owner on occasion. There are so many ways to make it possible to continue these relationships. If we all opened our hearts just a little, and walked in the shoes of others, and tried really hard to feel what they feel, what a difference we could make in this world, which is so fraught with discouraging and heart-wrenching news every day. And in the end, it might be any of us. We are not getting any younger.

Mr. Parker, Barron will see you soon.

Lynne Burford is a lifelong animal advocate who has been rescuing since she was a little girl. From birds and snakes to raccoons and foxes, she has rehabilitated and released back into the wild many orphaned and injured creatures. For the last ten years her focus has been on fostering and volunteering with rescues to place dogs into permanent and loving homes. Aside from various sizes of foster dogs, she owns a small pack of chihuahuas and a very tolerant greyhound named Anya.

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  1. all I did was cry, it is so sad when pets have to leave their owners, or because their old & the don’t want , so very sad, it would be nice to have places where the old & pet could still live, with help, even if you have to pay a little extra. but I guess that’s only a dream,:( I hop the dog get to see his owner soon, what a treat for both. Barron & Mr. Parks

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