Loving a Senior

Years ago for Cavalier Rescue USA we did a special campaign to encourage people to adopt a senior. We’re grateful that many families in our community will take in a Cavalier rescue at any age, any health condition, committed to celebrating their golden years, but there are still those seniors with special needs who can take a while to adopt. When I first assumed the role of coordinator for Virginia, we had a senior pair 13 years old who had been in rescue for a year and a half, and god bless the foster family, they had accepted that the pair would live the rest of their days as part of their family. (A loving lady did adopt them and they retired to Florida). I loved our senior campaign, the images and beautiful messages about how wonderful it is to adopt a senior. I had the idea that at one point I myself would adopt a senior but no specific pup or timing in mind.

Spencer pulled up in a red Mustang for transfer to rescue on Feb 21, 2020. I remember the feeling of lifting his sweet person into my car, checking off the paperwork, bringing him home, introducing him to my Lady Liberty. Sure enough, he became our first “foster failure” after nearly a decade on the forefront of rescue volunteer work. How grateful we are that he chose us.

Spencer was with us for one year, three months and five days, and every moment with him was a gift. We were his third family and he was sick, but he gave everything he had to be our family – 110 percent. Until he let us know that he couldn’t anymore.

Right now, we’re missing him so deeply and painfully – his sweet face, luxurious coat, faint smell of goat’s milk and side tongue kisses. We miss strolling him around the neighborhood. His favorite cool spot in front of the fridge is now entirely too accessible. I miss peering out of the shower to find him on the bath mat. He could barely walk in the end, but somehow still found his way around to get to us. Or to a treat. We miss his little face watching us from his spot in the green grass.

Spencer’s legacy, the reason he graced our life, is very evident for me as a dog mom and rescue coordinator.

If you have the heart and the ability – I encourage you to adopt a senior. What you will give is the assurance of a loving forever home to a sweet pup. What you will receive is an appreciation for life – in countless ways.

There was the one time Spencer played. Just once. He saw fetching was a way Libby and I connected so thought he’d try it out.

He and Liberty walked comfortably on a double leash together for most of his time with us, which many found impressive. When we had to separate them due to his mobility, he fell in step beside Liberty as though they were still doubled. He had the cutest bum wiggle ever when he walked.

He was everyone’s favorite but my mother was his. When we visited Florida, he would be lost around bedtime and always found helping my mother to get ready. The two were always chatting like old friends and loved cooking together. My family connected around caring for him.

Spencer would wait expectantly at the garage door to go for a ride. He and Liberty loved going anywhere and everywhere in their lookout car seat – farmer’s market, DC Cavalier Meetup, Christmas light viewing, bringing out the recycling, aimless rides. Their cute jowls drooped side by side over the edge of the car seat, watching the world go by. Rides in the big truck with my close friend were Spencer’s absolute favorite.

He was full of spirit and loved all the holidays and gatherings. He loved the Christmas tree so much we kept it up until April. For our Easter walk in a nearby park, he was very vocal in wishing every person and dog a very Happy Easter.

Spencer embraced our commitment to rescue. He welcomed a foster sister Lily, who was surrendered under circumstances similar to his, and helped make her feel comforted and comfortable. The trio of Cavs would race up the halls, with Lily and Libby catching glances to kick off and Spencer joining in the fun. All three loved participating in the international Cavalier Secret Santa this year. Vacationing in Annapolis was a highlight of their time together, kicking it at the dog beach and a scrumptious doggy ice cream parlor (with a full menu of toppings).

Anytime a field engineer came into my condo, he was such a good helper and tinkered curiously alongside them. Home repairs went very smoothly under his watch. He made certain we were set up here.

His coat was so long and beautiful, it took hours to groom him. He loved the pampering and never once complained. Nothing bothered him, not the dryer, not even the vet. He took everything in stride.

The last few nights we encouraged him to sleep in a crate or side bed for safety, but he needed to be up in the big bed with us, and we were glad he was. It had taken awhile for him to join us in the bed at first, and he was up and down throughout the night with help, but sleeping by him felt special.

So many memories; we will carry Spencer’s spirit with us always.

Thank you to Carolyn, our incredible president who has impacted my life and many others in immeasurable ways; to Cavalier Rescue USA and the Board; and to Spencer’s prior families who raised such a special dog and brought him to us when it was in his best interest. Thank you to Spencer. Because of you, Handsome, other rescues will benefit from our beautiful and enlightening experience with you. And most importantly, thank you to all of you, our community, who have or are considering adopting a senior. You’re in for a real treat.

By Michelle Ouellette, Virginia Rescue Coordinator