Bittersweet news from Kerry O'Connor - who said yes to a creaky little old lady dog plucked out of Oakland Animal Services as part of our compassion hold program in spring 2009. Kerry went on to adopt 'Gemma' as her very own. Photographs by Lori Fusaro
"I wanted to let you know that Gemma passed away on December 24. I always wondered what Gemma’s life had been like before she came to my house. She must have been an amazing young dog! She loved her comforts – blankets warm from the clothes dryer, snoozing on the sofa, cheese, scrambled eggs (I was always trying to put weight on that girl!) She didn’t mind taking baths, was great about getting her nails done, followed me around like a little shadow, and up until the second to last day of her life, served as my 'doggie alarm clock.' She was able to sense when 6:30am rolled around – but never did understand that weekends were different and that she didn’t have to woof me awake quite so early on Saturdays and Sundays.
On Wednesday 12/22, Gemma feasted on tiny meals of chicken breast and baby food. She found a sunny place on the back lawn, and we sat together watching the leaves fall from my neighbor’s birch trees and the squirrels running on the fences. I couldn’t get her to eat or drink at all on Thursday, and on Friday she was becoming unsteady on her feet, and still wouldn’t eat or drink. She was alert and sweet, but I knew she was ready to leave, and that the kindest thing I could do was let her go.
The nobility of old dogs has always amazed me. Gemma had the look of a wise old ferret. The white fur around her eyes reminded me of a pair of spectacles. I also think about the huge numbers of our breed that never get the opportunity to be old dogs. You, and so many articles I’ve read, talk about how many of these wonderful dogs don’t make it to their second birthdays. Even the technicians at the vet mentioned it – seeing a pit bull type dog able to live to such a ripe old age.
I’m so happy to have known Gemma, and to have had the privilege of being her guardian since April 2009. I know, as you do, that there are so many other Gemmas out there, who deserve a sunny spot in a peaceful home to live out their days, and if her story makes one person consider adopting an old dog, then all the tears that have been shed in the last few weeks have been well worthwhile." Kerry O'Connor
Sweet blessings to both Gemma and her devoted person Kerry.