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When 14-year-old, 70-pound Buster was brought earlier this month, it was sad for everyone. Buster’s owner had health issues and could no longer care for him. No one was at fault here; just bad circumstances.
Buster was examined by the Aiken County Animal Shelter vet staff and put into a kennel. I went to check on him and found his kennel soaking wet. He was so nervous, he was lapping up water as fast as he could and shaking in fear. It was so sad. We immediately took his picture and were going to reach out to the public to find help. I wasn’t super hopeful as most people don’t want senior dogs, especially large senior dogs.
Just as I was about to post his picture, I had a visit from an old friend.
I looked over my shoulder and there was John Berk.
John was a daily volunteer with FOTAS and a friend to us all. A little over three years ago, we were all shocked and surprised when John fell for Hobbes (then Milton), a senior dog with fur loss and little “cage appeal.” John started to take him out for overnight visits and Doggie Days Out and realized that the poor old soul never had much happiness. John adopted Hobbes and gave him the absolute best life any dog could have. He was his constant companion. We saw John and Hobbes all over town, best buddies.
When John arrived for a visit, it didn’t take long to see the tears in his eyes. His friend had passed away at home the day before. John wore the pain on his sleeve and yet asked me if we had a senior dog that needed help. How unselfish is that?
OK, so these things don’t just happen. I am a great believer that God had his hand in this.
I told John that I had only just met this older Lab named Buster less than an hour ago, but he needed help. John took the leash and walked him to his car. He said he wanted to give it a try. It was a little tough for Buster to get in the car, so John pulled out the steps he had used to help Hobbes get up into the passenger seat.
John and his amazing wife, Sally, have cats and another small dog they rescued recently, so I wasn’t completely sure this would work. But it just seemed to me there was a plan in play.
Two days later I received a text from John: “Sweet dog and starting to settle in.” Then I started getting pictures of Buster on the bed, at the dog park, in John’s car. It wasn’t a week that passed before John came to the shelter to make it official.
“We’ve made one dog very happy, thank you for picking him for me,” John said.
Some may think that a 14-year-old dog won’t adapt to a new owner or a new home. Some worry about adopting a senior pet and not having a long time with them. But think of what John does. He takes these older dogs that are scared and homeless, and he gives them friendship. He doesn’t think about how long he has; he thinks about how great the time will be.
This story just touches me more than most. To see Buster’s adoption unfold was inspirational.
In Memory of Hobbes.
Their lives are in our hands.