“Helping another living being to enjoy their last days and pass away knowing they're loved is a very special experience.”
Orca, the gentle senior giant, has been diagnosed with an incurable type of cancer and may only have six months to live. So when Alaskan Malamute Rehoming Aid Australia nominated him to feature in PetRescue’s Adoptables campaign, we pulled out all the stops to help him find a “forever foster” home straight away.
A few weeks later, we received this beautiful email from his new forever foster carer, Katherine from the ACT...
“Orca is such a sweet, goofy boy and I feel so blessed to know him and to be in a position to help him when he starts to go downhill. One of the hardest things about enduring terrible pain (and I know this from my own experience suffering from serious health problems over the last decade) is when you're lying alone, suffering. Just having someone there with you makes a world of difference.
“I've suffered severe chronic pain since a car accident in 2003 and, a few years ago, I also developed an autoimmune disease that meant I had to give up work and remain housebound at times. Living with those painful and debilitating conditions has been a constant challenge, but it has taught me some valuable lessons. One of those is to live as compassionately as possible. Another is the joy and meaning that my dogs bring to my life.
“Back in 2013, I saw a PetRescue ad for a special-needs Malamute named Bronx. Bronx was a wonderful boy, and I truly felt like he rescued me as much as the other way around. I was very sick, but I knew that he needed me to come through for him, just like Orca does now. It pushes me to fight my illness so that I can be the best guardian I can be.
“Like anyone who saw Orca online, I was touched by his story. There was something in his eyes that tugged at my heart and I knew that I wanted to help him. I have a soft spot for senior dogs and those with special needs. I empathise with any other creature who is suffering. They are the ones who need help the most, yet they're so often overlooked in favour of younger, healthier animals.
“Being sick and old doesn't mean that they have nothing to offer. On the contrary, older dogs tend to be settled, content to nap by your side as you watch TV or browse the Internet. They appreciate companionship, gentle pats and some short daily walks. As their health deteriorates, I try to work with the vet on a plan to manage their symptoms so that they live as comfortably as possible. And, when they let you know that it's time, be there to help them pass away peacefully and with dignity.
“Understandably, people are nervous about fostering or adopting an old or sick animal, because of the fear of watching them suffer and eventually pass away. But if you can find the courage, you have the opportunity to make a real difference to that animal's life. I try to think about it from the perspective of how I would like my own end-of-life experience. Helping another living being to enjoy their last days and pass away knowing they're loved is a very special experience.”
Has Katherine inspired you to consider adopting or fostering?
There are always senior pets in need of a foster or forever home. Start your search on the PetRescue website today, and keep your eyes on our Facebook page for featured seniors and special needs pets.
Banner image credit: Photography by Eric Ahlstrom