Thursday, December 20, 2012

“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

Fifty-eight days ago I saw this very same picture, and I heard the story about a stray dog that truly seemed to have run out of luck.  His name was Pager, and he was homeless.  He ended up at PAWS of Hertford County where the staff and volunteers took the time to find out what his story was.  Pager was a big, sweet boy with a smile that could make anybody fall in love with him.  It was this very picture that I had seen posted on their Facebook that captured my heart - and my heart refused to let this image go.  The story that followed this picture was a sad one.  Pager's lymph nodes were swollen, and it was thought that he probably had cancer.

50 days ago, Pager went to the vet for a biopsy.  I was following his story like a hawk.  There was something about this dog that I couldn't ignore.

44 days ago, I heard the news.  Pager had cancer, and his prognosis was grim.  He was to be euthanized that afternoon.  His cancer was a death sentence.  On top of that, he was high heart worm positive.  Pager didn't have a chance, and it wasn't fair to make him live the rest of his days out in a shelter environment.  My heart sunk... and while I already had four dogs in my house, I had to do something.  Even though one of the PAWS volunteers was going to take him to the vet to be euthanized rather than having it done in the shelter, I couldn't stand to let it happen.  I frantically texted K9 Justice League, the rescue I foster for, begging for permission to bring this dog into my home.  Apparently I didn't need to beg.  The rescue understood how important this was to me.  I wanted to do something for this dog that otherwise didn't have a chance.

39 days ago, I met the dog that would change my life forever.  He was awesome - and we all the knew this the minute we met him.  One of my fellow K9JL foster parents/friends came and photographed our first meeting.  She has a hospice dog... so she knows just how important it is to have plenty of pictures of a life that might not last all that long.  After we went shopping with Pager in Petsmart, it was time to bring him home to the clan.  He was a little nervous with the initial meeting, but can you blame him?  With four dogs and four cats in the house, it's a little intimidating for a newcomer!  It wasn't long before he settled in, though.

Pager spent the following 8 days living life to the fullest.  We fed him whatever he wanted - whipped cream, bagels, bully sticks, and mass amounts of treats.  When he wasn't visiting pet stores, Starbucks, and parks, Pager was getting loved on at home by me and my pack of dogs and cats.

Pager enjoying a Puppy Latte at Starbucks!
Kisses for Aunt Bethany!
32 days ago, Pager looked me in the eyes and told me that it was time to go.  He had spent eight amazing days with me.  Eight good days... full of happiness, love, and anything he wanted.  That last night, Pager slept in the bed with me.  He had this option since I had brought him into my home... but it wasn't until that night that Pager decided to spend the night in bed... right next to me.

31 days ago,  I had to make a very hard decision.  While I'd like to say it was the hardest decision of my life, it wasn't.  The night before, Pager looked at me with these eyes that said, "I just lived a lifetime in eight days.  It's okay to let me go now."  I woke up the next morning with him next to me, and I looked him in the eyes and knew what I had to do.  It was an easy decision.  Pager and I gave each other what we needed... and it was only fair to release him from his pain.  Overnight, my happy-go-lucky boy had declined greatly, and I simply couldn't stand to see him in that state.  We had to do right by Pager, so we brought him in to the vet that morning to send him across Rainbow Bridge.  Pager was surrounded by three people who loved him very much.  His crossing was quiet and peaceful... though very sad.  In just a short amount of time, Pager had captured the hearts of hundreds.

That very day, we thought that it would be a great tribute to Pager to pull another needy dog from the shelter.  I already had a foster dog, but it only seemed natural to add another to the mix to help distract me from the sadness that ensued from the loss of Pager.  She was a Shepherd mix with a widow's peak similar to Pager's.  I had already sworn off female dogs in my house... but Jessica, the founder of K9JL, thought I'd like her.  She was a little timid and quite underweight.  I wasn't blown away when I first met her, but I did like her.  I took her home that very day, and she met the rest of the clan without an issue.  I had already decided earlier that day that "if I ended up with her", I wanted to name her Paige.  I was fostering her in remembrance of Pager, so I figured that naming her after him made sense, too!

Days later, I couldn't imagine life without this little Shepherd mix.  She was sweet and goofy and got along extremely well with my "difficult dog", Lyla.  Lyla's personality doesn't always mesh well with those of others, but she and Paige got along as if they had lived together forever.  Trust me, there were no plans to adopt a fourth dog.  Ever.  I love fostering.  I've been doing it for two years.  But... there was something about Paige that I couldn't let go of.  I kept thinking, "What are the chances that another dog like this will ever cross my path?"

I like to think that this all happened for a reason - that I brought Pager into my life for those eight days to learn what I learned from him - and perhaps to help me find my way to Paige... and to help Paige find her way to me.  Yes, it's official... and the paperwork has been signed.  Who knew that life would bring me in this direction?  I sure didn't.

Welcome to forever, Paige.

Peace, Love, and Paw Prints... Emily


  1. You are an amzaing woman and I'm so very glad you are my friend and belong to K9 Justice League. We are very lucky to have you.

  2. Thank you for giving Pager the love & comfort that he should have had his entire life. Congratulations on your new addition!