For some, the heartache of losing a beloved, animal companion is so severe they choose not to invite another into their home and their heart to avoid experiencing that kind of pain again.
Until, one day, along comes a cat or dog. That wasn’t exactly the case for Roy and his wife, Liz.
Skipper wasn’t just ‘a’ dog, and he didn’t just ‘come along’ one day.
Skipper had known Liz and Roy for many years; they were neighbours in a beautiful crescent, in a small town in Ontario, Canada. The town was so small that, when Skipper’s person Don first moved to the area, an employee at the local Lumberjack Sawmill suggested he contact Roy. Don was in need of some hardwood to patch a small area of floor in his new (old) house, and Roy had recently purchased the exact kind required by Don. The sawmill employee suggested Roy might have enough left over for Don’s minor repair.
Don called and introduced himself to Roy, and told him he had just moved into town and shared his new address. ‘Well,’ said Roy, ‘if you look out your window, you can probably see my house.’ Roy provided Don with enough wood to repair the small patch that had become rotten and over the next few months, the two men would say ‘hi’ when they saw each other walking their dogs around the park in the crescent. Eventually, Don would stop by Roy’s house for a visit.
Sadly, seven years ago Roy lost his best friend, Bob. The little Jack Russell Terrier went most places with his person. Bob and Roy were a well-known duo in the town and over the course of their relationship they had created lasting memories of their many adventures; the stories of which Roy is finally able to recount. Roy was devastated by the loss.
In the past couple of years, Don’s health had been declining. Roy would take Skipper for his walks, and when they returned to the house, he would feed Skipper and get marijuana drops out of the fridge for Don. During one visit Roy found Don attached to his IV and particularly upset.
I’m afraid I’m going to have to put my dog down; nobody can or will take him, in the family
Skipper’s stepdaughter has cats that aren’t happy in the company of dogs. There was also concern that if (at that time) fourteen-year-old Skipper was returned to the shelter, he would spend his final days there. Roy played back their time in the crescent. Seven years of Don and Skipper; walks around the park and the memories created between them. It was a painful reminder of his loss; although in this case, it was the man being taken from his dog.
You can’t do that Don; you just can’t do that!
A dying man, kill his dog? Roy lowers and shakes his head as he recalls the difficult conversation.
I couldn’t let that be….I couldn’t make him do that…..I couldn’t let him do that.
‘We’ll take him,’ Roy assured his friend.
During Don’s previous hospital stays, Skipper had become used to spending time with Liz and Roy. The idea of having him on a permanent basis was not so far fetched, and it would not be a huge adjustment. And so, when Don went into the hospital for the last time, Skipper moved to the other side of the crescent.
It is often said, the best tribute you can pay to an animal companion is to open your heart and home to another animal, in need. This beautiful act of kindness by Liz and Roy honours both Bob and Don.
The transition, it seems, was not without a few challenges. It did take Skipper a considerable amount of time to settle to sleep, and he does have anxiety-related issues. Skipper doesn’t like to be shut in anywhere and wears a belly band to prevent leaks during stressful situations. After a little more than a year, the three have adjusted well; he only wears his band when left alone and in new situations. Skipper is content to holiday in a local kennel when the retired couple is away but is very happy to see his people when they return. It is obvious that Skipper adores the couple.
Don’s family stop in to visit when they are in the area and bring treats for the little Schnauzer mix.
I wish that Don could see that Skipper is happy
Perhaps, he can! There was an incredible bond between Skipper and Don. So much so, the evening before Don passed, Skipper had an extremely restless night. Liz remembers saying to Roy ‘something must be happening.’ Soon after, they received the sad news that Don had passed.
Don enjoyed writing; he even authored a couple of books. His thoughts were penned in his journal. During his service, Don’s family shared the following passage:
Roy is taking my dog; I can go now.
Thank you, Liz, Roy & Skipper for sharing your story,
If you are part of or know of a rescue story, please contact us; we love to share happy tales!