Guest Blog: Drew’s Adopter, Janet

Early this year I met a very special dog, Drew. Drew was adopted by a very special family, a couple and their two boys, who took in a special needs senior without knowing how much time they would have with him. Drew recently passed on, and I asked Janet to write a guest blog about their time with him.

“When I first saw Drew, I knew I had to meet him. We have an active 5 year old Pointer, Stripes, (he came with the name – that’s another story), who is left alone for a few hours each day, and I thought he would benefit from a canine companion. I had been casually surfing shelter and rescue sites for a while, and when I saw Drew I just knew he was the one. He looked a little Pointer-ish, a little Lab-ish, but mostly just sweet. I know that looks don’t tell the whole story, but the short bio that PAW posted tugged at my heart. Drew was a return. A 12 year-old discard. Adopted at 2, he was brought back after spending 10 years with the people he knew as his family and loved. Apparently, mother-in-law was moving in, and simply didn’t like dogs. Really? Good luck to mother-in-law as she begins to age.

I completed an online application, and heard back within a day. Yay! We set a date to meet Drew on the following Saturday, to make sure the chemistry was right, and make sure he and Stripes got along. Saturday morning, the phone rang, and it was Ken from PAW. He told us that Drew had had a seizure early that morning, had recovered and seemed fine, but he wanted to disclose that information before we set out to meet him. It didn’t stop us. In fact, I knew that an epileptic senior was less likely to be adopted, and we hoped that the meet and greet would go well.

It did. Drew was a love. Easy-going, like an old uncle. He fell into a routine with us pretty quickly. Stripes was always “my” dog, my shadow, but Drew belonged to all of us. He slept often, and was a cozy pillow for my boys. He surprised us with his frisky side every now and then, and liked to play chase and tug. He and Stripes mostly co-existed, they never really became “pals” but they certainly got along, and Drew brought a mature presence to the house. My sons said that Drew was Stripes’ long lost step-father. Maybe. Who knows?

With Drew in the house, I didn’t feel bad leaving for a few hours, knowing my dog-boys had each other. Drew loved to hike, always close by, and would dip in the stream to re-energize. For every mile Drew and I hiked, Stripes would run 5, and circle back to meet us. He was just as happy with a short stroll in the neighborhood, and was always a gentleman on the leash.

After a few months, Drew’s seizures increased in intensity and frequency. We tried medication, and it helped for a while. We put more time between the outings, and spent more time just cuddling with our new buddy as he slept. He was always there to greet us with a wag, and his needs were simple: food, water, walks and some love. In return, Drew awarded us with a generous dose of unconditional love each day.

We knew our time with Drew would be limited, but had hoped it would be longer. On November 14th, we buried Drew in the backyard, next to our first rescue dog, our first canine family member, Zola. Drew’s seizures had become unmanageable, he showed signs of brain damage, and our vet diagnosed him with a brain lesion.

My sons loved Drew deeply and discovered that a senior can be just as fun (and less destructive) as a puppy. They learned that it’s great to love, it’s hard to lose, and it’s important to honor your commitments. Drew graced our home with love, and taught us all of that.”

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  • Sherri

    Thank you for giving Drew a chance! I’m so glad he was cherished to the end.

    I adopted my beagle, Oliver, at 12 years old too. He was rescued from a hoarder, adopted and returned to animal control about 6 months later. Like Drew, his seizures combined with his age made him a “difficult adoption” but he was a good match for my (then) 14 yr old little JRT mix. We’ll celebrate his 16th birthday this month. Bringing home a senior, special needs dog was the best decision I ever made.

  • suzy allman

    I was thinking about Drew today — I never met him but I’d seen the facebook entry several months ago on the Pets Alive Website, and Janet it must have been written by you: where you were wondering if you should come down and see Drew, because you were thinking about him but you didn’t know if a second dog would be too much. I remember the encouragement you received from lots of people!

    And then last week, I read John’s previous, older blog entry about Drew. It was just about the best writing I’ve come across on the subject of “returns”, and it really made me cry. Again I remembered the time when a family was adopting this dog, Drew, that didn’t fit in his home any more. I’m so glad you picked up Drew.

    And then I was thinking about him today — before I read that he’d passed away — about how he must have felt when his old family left him off, and how now it must seem like that family did him a favor. Who could have loved him more than you? Who is a more loving family than the ones that take a dog in his twilight, with numerous health problems, just because they know nobody else will?

    This story of Drew is my “heart” story and I’ll never forget it. You could write a book about the life lessons old dogs teach you, but this one is really special. What a great thing you did for that ol fella.

    • Janet

      Thanks, we definitely made the right decision for all of us. There were times when I could sense a he missed part of his old routine, whatever it was, and all of us just wanted to make him happy and know he was still loved. I’m pretty sure he knew, and clearly, the feeling was mutual.

  • mikken

    Drew’s history reminds me of the period of time in my childhood when my great grandmother moved in with us for a while. She was most definitely not a dog person and one day our large senior beagle/boxer mix was just standing in her way and she raised her cane to strike her – my mother spotted the move and let the old woman know in no uncertain terms that that sort of behavior was unacceptable here and that the dog was here first and was to be treated with respect and care. My great-gran made some mutterings about “it’s me or the dog” to which my mother was very clear that if it came down to that choice, the dog would win, no question, so she’d do well not to press that.

    Thank goodness Drew’s new people were there when he needed them most. Some people are terrified of seizure activity and it takes someone special to see beyond “the scary bits”.

  • Rose

    Thank you for giving Drew the most special time of his life, and also thank you for allowing your sons to learn all the wonderful life lessons that they did.

  • Karen Palchanes

    Thank you so much for saving a senior in his last days….I have done 3 in the last year and a half and am on my way this saturday to get another from PAW…..your story was beautiful and I try all the time to get people to join the cause….your a wonderful person and I hope you continue to save seniors and now you know what I do…it is a wonderful feeling to pick one and get them to a home with lots of love and treats and outdoor time….to give them their “Happy Ending” as I call it….I will continue for the rest of my life as I hope you will…and if you don’t it was wonderful that you changed one dogs life…..

    • Janet

      I would love to adopt another senior when my boys are ready. Thanks for all you do!

  • Terry

    I saw first hand what a wonderful end of life Drew had. Janet, Pat and the boys shared there warm and wonderful home and Drew was a really a blessing!

  • kevin murphy

    Janet, We got to know Drew very well from being neighbors. He was a sweet dog, and will be truly missed.
    You are an angel!

    Kevin M

  • Nancy

    Great article, Janet. I hope more people consider a senior. Libby and Rudy are doing well but when the time comes that we have a vacancy, I think a senior is a great way to share our home with the joys of a dog. A calm, trained, loving companion is always a joy. Drew RIP, you were a very lucky guy.