As the title indicates, this will be our final post. Mostly because our life with Howard is perfectly joyful for a thousand reasons. First, Howard is simply THE happiest dog ever! His tail never stops wagging - wide cheery wags, twirling wags and thump, thump, thumping wags - when we walk into a room, say his name or simply look his way and smile. Howard's eyes light up when we come home. He is utterly jubilant...thrilling us with a buoyant tigger-like greeting followed by a crazy tazmanian devil dash for a toy snatch from Daphne and his big finale, the famous couch dive. It's like coming home to a circus act each day.
Howard's zany antics keep us laughing. One of many examples is when he wakes up. First, he shakes his ginormous head which sounds like a helicopter lifting off. Next it's the long downward dog stretch with yawn-owl, followed by a massive sneeze, not a dog sneeze, oh no...it's a house shaking old man sneeze... AAAHPHCHHOOOBRRR! Then he happily trots off ready for whatever. We laugh every time. Howard's sleeping habits are equally amusing. He either sleeps curled up like a fat python or flat on his back - hind legs spread eagle, front legs down by his sides or on his chest. I could go on and on... like I said, a thousand reasons....
If you have only happened upon this blog for the first time, it is an amazing rescue story that, like many I imagine, has a happy ending for all, but most importantly, Howard. Howard joined our family on November 22, 2008. We were brought together by an unusual set of circumstances, but I like to believe it was simply fate.
Howard was an owner surrender - rescued by two by very special ABA volunteers, Sandy and Mari. He was an older boy, malnourished, dangerously underweight, parasite infested with numerous large cysts. He was crated for 12 hours or more a day and basically neglected because his owner did not have time for him. Still, Sandy said that the moment she met Howard she knew he was special. Apparently, despite the fact that he was completely disregarded by his owner and living a hopeless existence, Howard remained a calm, sweet, kind and gentle boy at heart who absolutely deserved a second chance, if he survived.
While some thought Howard was unadoptable, given his age and health issues, Sandy and Mari disagreed (thank God) and made Howard's rescue their personal mission. Howard was fostered by Mari while Sandy provided his food and they both provided care and love. Mari also called upon her friend, Caren, to join Howard's cause. Caren works at a veterinary clinic in New York and graciously took Howard temporarily so that he could get the medical treatment he needed, which included neutering, cyst removal (8 in all), blood work, parasite and de-worming treatment as well as thryoid treatment. Caren personally paid his extensive medical bills. After Howard's medical treatment, he returned to Mari's and spent the next two months recovering and gaining weight. Mari and Sandy gave Howard a taste of the life that he deserved. In return, Howard apparently provided quite a bit of his unique quality of entertainment.
Not long after Howard's rescue, Sandy met my husband and I during an ABA volunteer assignment. The next day, Sandy and I spoke on the phone and got to know each other. I told her that we lost our male bullmastiff, Harley, in August to cancer and had just started to look for a companion for our female, Daphne, who was very depressed. We originally wanted and were waiting for a puppy, but then start to think about rescue. She mentioned Howard, describing what an amazing boy he was and that she thought he would be a good match for us. She said they were being very particular about his adoption because he was so special to them.
The next week, we brought Daphne to Connecticut to meet Howard. He was mellow and calm while approaching her, which she appreciated as she is a bit timid. We also watched Howard interact with Mari's puppy, Ilsa, with whom he was playful, gentle and tolerant. While his physical appearance was a little shocking with the massive scars and thin body, we felt for the guy. We couldn't bear the thought of leaving him. Plus, as Sandy said, it was clear that there was something special about him. It was a good meeting and we agreed that he would be good for us.
A week or so later, Howard came home. From the very moment he arrived, he seemed to feel right at home. For Daphne, it took more time to adjust to him, but they are now at ease with each other, friendly and playful when the mood strikes. There are never squabbles and as time has passed we catch them laying next to each other outside or at different places in the house. Howard's personality is so sweet and loving, we can't comprehend how he could be treated with anything but love. He is sweet, affectionate, funny, energetic, yet mellow too.
Mark and I feel like Howard has always been in our life. He has given us more joy and laughter than we could have ever imagined possible. He healed our aching hearts and filled the hole that Harley's death left behind, including Daphne's, who was so depressed that we were scared for her health. We have often expressed our gratitude to Sandy for bringing us together and do so again here, thank you Sandy. We also of course want to thank Mari and Caren for the critical roles they played in his rescue. If it were not for each of you, Howard would not be the healthy thriving boy that he is today - you are truly amazing women. While there are a thousand successful rescue stories that inspire you to continue this work, I hope that Howard's story will always hold a special place in your heart.
To those of you considering rescue, I hope you will read through this blog and see that rescue is an amazing and wonderful experience. With Harley's death and Howard's adoption, we have a new appreciation for the finite time that we have with our precious animals. Howard has taught us that love for a rescued dog is just as deep and profound as that for one raised from a pup. He has also taught us that a dog does NOT have to be young and physically perfect to be awesome. In fact, what we love most about him are is imperfections, his crooked smile, sideways tongue and scars give him character, make him unique and remind us that some of the best things don't come in a perfect package.
If you haven't read this entire blog and do, I hope you enjoy it. If you've read this final entry and feel inspired to rescue... you will not regret it. Again, this is one of a million successful rescue stories. I encourage you to find more, especially those that rescued the Michael Vick dogs. To those of you who have shared this journey with us, thank you. It has been a truly remarkable experience.
Finally, to those of you who rescue, foster, and rehome dogs, cats, animals of all kinds, you are amazing people. It takes a strong heart, compassion, selflessness and courage to do rescue work and I admire you. Thank you for rescuing and saving the lives of those who can not help themselves.
Kim, Mark, Daphne and Howard Olson