Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why we foster, Part four: Agnes

We foster because of Agnes. Ten-twelve year old Agnes came to us on December 2, 2009, from a distant shelter, she had been picked up as a stray, no tags, no identification, a sign of an “on purpose” stray. The shelter said her coat was so bad they did not want to deal with it, they called Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies. When she arrived at rescue, her coat was terribly matted and dirty, so bad that she hurt when she was petted. The transport team had tried to help her, but her coat was so bad that they could not do anything to help, it would require some serious grooming. Her coat was extra heavy and long, a sign she had been outside in the cold for a long time. The groomers took extra time with her, they wanted her to be comfortable in a home.

A trip to the vet disclosed that she was heart worm positive, suffered from arthritis and joint problems. The rescue was very concerned about her, her heart worm infection was very advanced and in her weakened condition there was worry that she might not survive the treatment that would be necessary to start her back on the road to health. She was treated, then kept for observation for several days. When we picked her up, she was still very quiet, she was still under some strong drugs. We had a follow up vet appointment for her after Christmas, they wanted to get her over the heart worm first.

Her trip to our home was uneventful, she rode in a car like she had done so many times before. She was quiet, she was still taking some pretty powerful drugs and she was still fighting off the heart worm treatment. We often wonder what an older rescue feels as they ride to a new home, do they look back on their old home, wondering where their familiar faces are, or do they look forward with anticipation to a new life? We decided that Agnes was just happy to be off of the street and in a warm place.

In a few days it was clear that Agnes had successfully defeated her heart worm. For a few days she was noticeably weak, but she fought the fight and won. She came to us, knowing that she would be hard to place, she was old and she was somewhat stiff in her movements. Old dogs are slow to find new homes.

Mogley and Bella welcomed her into the pack for a long stay. She quickly became a loved member of our home, she was teaching us about the joys of older Golden's. As the drugs lost their hold on her, she became a lover, she had missed the attention and love while she was a stray, then again while she was under the drugs and while her coat was healing. She soon became a hand follower, if a hand went by, she would follow it just in case it would stop where she could put her head under it. Her favorite place was beside any chair that someone was sitting in. She quickly proved that she was a toy hound. We gave her an early Christmas.  Because she enjoyed toys so much, we gave her some brand new ones. She had a toy or a ball in her mouth at all times, a sign she was feeling much better.

She did not like the stairs to the upstairs bedroom, but she would struggle up each night so that she could sleep beside the bed. We soon had a routine involving hauling a bed up and down the stairs so she would have a place to lay during the day on the main floor beside the big chair. The rescue has a vest with a handle on the back, on our next trip we would get that so we could help her up and down the stairs, she would not let us go up stairs without her, so we would have to help.

For an older lady, she had an adventurous streak in her. One cold sunny afternoon we watched her sniff around the edge of the Koi pond, she was interested in the floating ice and splashing water. Then she stepped into the cold water and sank. We dropped the camera and helped her back onto dry land, then rushed her in to dry her off and warm her up. She liked being wrapped in a blanket. From then on, we would frequently pull a blanket over her when she laid down on her bed. She would lay still with it on top and quickly go to sleep. We did not get a photo of her once she went in the pond, we were too busy getting her out and dried off.

One afternoon during her potty trip to the back yard, she was way out with the other dogs, barking at the back fence where walkers were on the trail in the park. We called then all in for treat and pill time. Everyone ran to the door, Agnes came in her usual “stroll”, half way to the house, she slipped on some hard snow or ice under the trees and fell. When she made two vain attempts to get up, we ran out to see what had happened. She was obviously in pain, and she could not move her left rear leg. We called a neighbor to come help put her on a blanket-stretcher, made a call to the vet that we were coming and headed out. The vet confirmed that Agnes had broken her hip. She had advanced bone cancer, her hips were laced with cancer, there was no hope of recovery, no way the hips could heal with so little bone left intact, there was no hope for her to move or walk again.

After only 13 days with us we had to let Agnes go. We hope we were worthy of her, she was a wonderful lady that deserved more than she was given in the last days of her life. Her passing was helped by the wonderful, loving actions of the rescue veterinarian staff. Agnes was a treat hound, she loved treats. Dr. Carpenter and the Arvada West Veterinary Hospital staff were wonderful. For her last moments, they made sure the pain medications were taking care of her so that she would be comfortable. Then the staff raided the refrigerator and gave Agnes all the “bad” things they had, bits of sandwiches and even chocolate candy, all those wonderful, forbidden treats. They did all they could to make her last moments happy. Yes, Agnes, there were people who loved you and cared for you to the very end of your life.

We still regret that we had overlooked one of the symptoms of her cancer. Agnes had spotted the carpet twice in the days just prior to her slipping on the ice. We thought that the medications were making her incontinent. We responded by making sure she went out on a regular schedule, we did not consider that she was in too much pain to make the trek outside on her own through the dog door. Had we given it more thought, we may have arrived at the conclusion that her hips were worse than we thought and needed some attention. This has made us watch our fosters much more closely, looking for signs that something else may be going on. We should have known that a lady such as Agnes would never make an error in the house unless there was something very bad happening.

Yes, Agnes, we foster because of you and so many more that need our help, even if only for a few days or hours. Thank you Agnes, you made a very big impression on our lives. The rescue volunteers worked together to help her, from picking her up in Southern Colorado, transporting her, grooming her, it took many volunteers to help her along her last journey. Thanks to all of you, you made a wonderful Golden Lady's life a little better. We will always remember you.

Posted for the many rescue volunteers that make it all possible.

Mogley G. Retriever


  1. Of khourse woo were worthy: WOO KHARED!

    She was pawmitted to have the best life a Golden khould have - albeit a khondensed version -

    AND thanks to Agnes, others will know more love!


  2. I remember reading this post about Agnes back in December and the story broke my heart then, and it breaks my heart now. But you should never think that you missed seeing something was wrong with Agnes. We both know that Goldens can be very brave and stoic and never let you know just how crummy they are feeling--I think Agnes was no exception to this. She was lucky that her last days were surrounded by those who loved and cared about her--I'm sure she knew that, and your tribute to her is your continuing to make a difference to other Goldens just like her.

  3. I should never read this blog at work.

    Thank you for giving Agnes a loving end to her life.

  4. I still remember, and I am just as much in tears as the day I read Agnes had to be put to sleep. Agnes was the best rescue story I had ever read. Thank you for making her last days secure and loving.

    Trudi, mommie of Earnhardt, Lady(senior), Sandy Paws and Oliver.

  5. What a very moving story. I'm so glad she found some happiness before she had to go.

  6. I do love reading the rescue stories. Agnes' is no exception. There is always a parallel fact, circumstance or picture that reminds me that this could be Lady’s story. The one thing I am learning is how many cruel ways people have of disposing of their unwanted Goldens. I’m afraid I am a bit naive about this dark side of human beings.

    Thankfully, Lady’s original owners were kind enough to contact the rescue organization directly to arrange for a foster home so Lady could be adopted. This is how we found each other.

    As well as I know Goldens, I don’t see how you could have diagnosed her cancer from a couple of instances of incontinence, especially considering the intense medical issues she had after she was found. We are all thrilled she was so happy at the end of her life. Blessed are the rescue volunteers, all of you who helped Miss Agnes – a Golden Angel.

  7. LIke some of the others, I read Agnes' story while it was happening; I cried then and got misty-eyed now. Even if you had whisked her off to the vet the first time she spotted the carpet, it still would have been too late. Cancer that advanced had been around a while. The story of her determination to go up and down the stairs just to be with her pack of dogs & humans is so touching. Her short spell of blossoming after all her misfortune is inspiring. I love her picture in her orange towel!

  8. Thanks to folks like you, Miss Agnes made her Bridge journey in the arms of love.
    We don't know what kind of a life she had before she came to you, but we do know that the last 13 days of her life that you had her were no doubt the best she ever had.
    As Kim said we all know how Goldens cover any type of illness or problem they have, we know that you did all you could.

    Sheila & Bob,
    Hamish & Rescue Sophie

  9. Oh Mogley, we cried then and cry now. It is so sad and yet a happy story that she was rescued and did not die hungry, alone and in pain.

    Oh, I should have mentioned that the rescues on my page today were follow up reminders from the ones featured during the Petfinders Less Adoptable week. You just never know who might stop by and follow a link and find a new friend.

    Thanks again for stoppin' by.
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  10. Hi Mogley
    We remember reading about Agnes last year and just like then, we're crying once again. But thank God she had you & your humans to grace her life at the end. She spent her last days with good people who cared about her and she died in loving arms.

    Writing through tears,
    Nadine Apples & Neeli

  11. How sad. I'm glad this lovely old lady had a loving place to spend her last days.


  12. She had 13 days of pure joy and that is what she took wit her when she went to the Bridge. I once picked up a stray cat who died a few days later, and the knowledge that he had died well-loved and cared for and with a full belly, always makes me smile.

  13. What a beautiful story. She had the most wonderful 13 days of her life. Don't be hard on yourself for missing "signs." It is really impossible to know what all the little things that dogs do mean and when one is worrisome.

    Mango Momma

  14. You all made the last almost 2 weeks of Agnes's life filled with love, the greatest gift that you could have given her.

    I see why you foster but it must be very hard sometimes... RIP Agnes.

  15. Sniff, sniff, with a tear in my eye. Mom says it reminds her of a similar story she will help me post on my blog. Tucker

  16. What a beautiful story and I imagine those two weeks safe and warm and loved were a lifetime for Agnes.

  17. Agnes was one of my favorites. Seeing her wrapped in that blanket is the sweetest picture. At least she got to experience the truest love the last days of her life. We love you guys...