When a pet parent adopts a dog from a shelter, they don’t always know what their new pet’s life was before they bring them home. But there’s a lot that can be gleaned from the dog’s temperament and overall health.
As this heartwarming open letter posted to Kansas City’s Craigslist, Laurel’s past may have been a mystery, but the kind of home she came from shone through. This touched my heart so much!
“To the Person Who Lost a German Short-Haired Pointer 2 Years Ago…”
“Like other senior rescues before her, Laurel’s history was a mystery. She simply showed up at a shelter outside of Kansas City, having been found as a stray. As a 12-year-old dog at an overcrowded kill shelter, Laurel found herself on the short list that nobody wants to be on. When her intake photo that popped up in my news feed, with her overgrown nails and eyes oozing with infection, we knew that we had to save her. Before ever having met our sweet girl, we adopted her by phone and drove the 4 hours to pick her up.
“Of all the animals we have adopted, Laurel was the only one who never really felt like she was entirely ours. She arrived impeccably trained and socialized, heart worm-free (meaning she had been given preventative her whole life), and very, very loving toward humans. Her eye condition was found to be chronic in nature, meaning somebody had carefully applied medication each day for years to prevent blindness. Someone had cherished this dog throughout her life, filling her with adoration and unblinking trust for everyone she met.
“For a week after she arrived at our home, Laurel politely but urgently held vigil by our front door, desperately waiting for her family to arrive and whisk her away. We went so far as to scour backlogged Craigslist ads for missing dogs who matched her description, hoping that her status as a homeless stray had been some horrible mistake and she had a family tirelessly looking for her.
“This was not to be, though, and Laurel slowly gave up hope that loved ones would find her. Occasionally we saw glimpses of a past life. A few times while on a walk she became ecstatic when seeing a certain type of truck parked along the street, eagerly planting herself at the door or tailgate to be admitted in. She had enjoyed car rides with someone, went on walks with someone, been loved by someone for so many years.
“To this mystery person, who was so fully part of her life and then not, I wish I could say this. . .
“I don’t know what happened to separate you from your very sweet Laurel. Life or accident or circumstance left her without a family and we were blessed to be able to take on that role. Dogs as loving as Laurel are not simply born and raised, they are exquisitely crafted by years of belly rubs and snuggles, kisses and shared table scraps. Whoever you are, you filled this sweet dog up with a lifetime of love and for that I am eternally grateful. Although Laurel was part of our lives for just two years, her warm and loving nature left a permanent paw print in our hearts.”
“I want you to know that we loved her too, and cared for her as best we could. She had doggie friends and hamburgers and cuddly beds. She went on adventures and chased squirrels and marveled the joy of many blessed days. The last years of her life were shrouded in love and gentleness. She was protected and cared for entirely until her last breath.
“I wouldn’t want to tell you the details of her final days, of the cancer that blossomed and thrashed within her bones, slowly taking her from us. Those sorrowful and agonizing last memories speak only of the end of her story, not of the joyful spirit she exuded for all of her 14 years. I would tell you that her end came peacefully, in her favorite bed, surrounded by loved ones. It was painless and without suffering, freed at last from a body that fought for too long.
“If I could, I would leave you instead with my favorite memory of our sweet Laurel. It happened some time ago after we got her diagnosis, one of those moments that come and go without a second thought. It is not until much later that you realize it was filled with magic and will remain a most beloved recollection.
“It was a beautiful fall evening. The last vestiges of late summer heat were holding strong, infusing the air with a muggy warmth. Laurel’s strength had waned and she no longer enjoyed long evening walks. Instead, we took her to her favorite park, positioning ourselves on a bench overlooking a small pond. It was dark out but the baseball field was lit for a game, casting a halo around the entire park. To Laurel’s delight, we had brought along a special treat for her: a huge slice of vanilla cake from the local grocery store. The gooey frosting had melted, making its consumption nearly an Olympic event, her gumming down the contents slowly and with great care.
“There she was, laying the soft grass, delicately decimating that ridiculously giant piece of cake. She kept one eye on the ball players, her nub wagging wildly when the crowd cheered. The rest of her attention settled on the ducks as they lazily floated in the pond before us. Passersby chuckled at the sight of an old dog having a whole piece of cake to herself and she seemed to be laughing too, rejoicing in the splendidness of the moment. At one point she looked up at me, her eyes alert and bright. She had goopy frosting all over her mouth, crumbs lay everywhere. She was smiling and radiant, so happy to be caught up in this unexpected joy. As a breeze blew by and unsettled the ducks from their nearby slumber, Laurel looked on and quietly contemplated a life well lived.
“Finally, I would want to say to you, thank you for holding such a special place in Laurel’s heart. For protecting and loving her for the first decade of her life. The world can be a harsh place and it takes effort for a sinless soul to remain buoyed. My heart has been so enriched by knowing her gentle spirit; regardless of what circumstance led her to our door.
“Because I have loved and lost many animal friends, it is my deepest hope that they will all joyously greet me one day at the Rainbow Bridge. Laurel will be there, little tail stump thrumming, eager to once again see both of us, the people who she so effortlessly gave her heart to while on earth. I send this hope, this message, to an empty void, an unknown person. But please know, whoever and wherever you are, your dog was loved every day that she was not with you, until her very last sunset.
“Our sweet Laurel passed away on January 16th, 2015, exactly two years to the day that we adopted her.”