Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cubby--A Lesson in Love

How do you begin to tell a story about a dog that was hard to love?  I guess you start at the beginning, and with an explanation that when you're involved in rescue, your heart and passion becomes saving each and every dog that you can.  And there are a few times this can involve a tiny-little bit of deception for the sake of the dog.  This is how Cubby's story began, with a little white lie...

You may be familiar with Craig's list which is a classified advertisements website with sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, items for sale, service offered, etc.  There is also a 'free section' where various things are given away.  Unfortunately animals are sometimes among the listings that are "free."  Knowing what terrible things can happen when animals are given away, thankfully there are people who watch this site for these ads. One day there was a listing for a 'free senior Golden Retriever to a good home.' It immediately was brought to the attention of the rescue I volunteer with.  Someone contacted the person who had placed the ad and inquired about turning the dog over to the rescue.  The answer was an emphatic 'no.'  This was because the couple had been misinformed about rescues, and didn't want this particular dog to be put-to-sleep if he was unable to find a home.  Despite the efforts of the rescue to try and explain to them that this wouldn't happen, they still refused. This is where I came into the picture. The plan was for me to contact the couple and convince them to personally give me the dog--I would then sign the dog over to the rescue and I would foster him--It was a perfect plan!  The only thing that wasn't perfect was the timing which could not have been worse.  We were not living at 'Golden Pines' and our current house was already on the market for sale. So taking in another dog was really not something we wanted to do, but my heart took over and any rational thinking to not do it was totally gone. I contacted them.
I became instant friends with 'Beth and Aaron'  and one of their first questions was if I was involved with a rescue.  My lie to them came when I told them I was not.  I found out that they were devoted animal lovers who had 2 dogs of their own really wanted to do a good deed for a dog they'd found wandering as a stray in Baltimore. The dog they had named 'Manny' was wearing a collar with a name and telephone number, but they had been unable to contact the owner. They took him to the shelter who were able to reach the owner, but they decided that they no longer wanted the dog they knew as 'Brandy.'  Beth and Aaron felt responsible for this old soul, and so they adopted him. With little money to care for another dog, and a move across the country on their agenda, they decided to find a new home for Manny and they decided that his new home would be ours.  The plan to get them to give me Manny had worked!  

Aaron and Beth brought Manny to us from Baltimore on a hot rainy day in June. Along with them in their old Honda were their two dogs, whose names I don't remember. None of us had any idea how old Manny was, but he was old, thin and frail and there was no question, he'd had a difficult life.
Manny had numerous medical issues; anemia, tick-borne illnesses added to that he had laryngeal paralysis, he was hard of hearing and nearly blind. Manny also had little control over a bowel that was very irritable. Added to all that he was reactive around food when the other dogs were near by--But with his age and being so feeble, it was hard to take him seriously--Manny would snap and try to bark at the dogs and stumble to the floor from the energy it took him to protect his meal.
~The Gang in 2007, Cubby is the 2nd on the far right~
Manny's personality could best be described as aloof, and looking back at it, I suppose he could have also been described as senile.  Often he seemed in a place far away.  And then there were those moments when Manny would try to wag his tail and he would rub his head up and down my leg and when our eyes would meet and I could feel a connection with him.
Despite all the health and other problems Manny had, I was of course quite fond of him and came to care for him very much.  And as you know when that happens, nicknames are given.  For whatever reason I started calling Manny, 'man' which turned into 'man-cub' and eventually became Cubby.  The name stuck and 'Cubby' became who he was.  We officially adopted him from the rescue at the same time we adopted  Logan.
~Cubby, (front) and Logan~ 
Cubby's health issues continued, and he was never able to control his bowels. He was still painfully thin, and was on a vet-prescribed diet.  His blood-work still indicated some kind of infection or what was thought to be leukemia.  But one day a discussion with someone at the shop where I buy dog food, and I changed Cubby's food from the prescription food to a limited ingredient kibble.  Within a couple of months, he had put on weight and his blood-work was normal.  There was no question that Cubby felt and looked better and we were thrilled!
We used to say that Cubby was like an old car that we just wanted to keep running. He would periodically become ill, and because of his age, he easily became dehydrated and so he would spend the day at the vet receiving IV fluids. Afterwards he would be just fine.  On one occasion after he'd spent the day at the vets office when I returned home, I left him in the van while I went inside to get the other dogs settled. Cubby was exhausted and was laying in the back and seemed to be sound asleep. When I came to take him inside, I found that he'd eaten half of a king-sized milk-chocolate bar that I'd left on the front seat!  Thankfully he was just fine, but I never left him alone like that again!

Cubby found peace and solitude at Golden Pines and thrived in the quiet routine. We let him set his own pace and decide what he would do and when.  When he seemed like he needed help to find his way back to the house, we helped him find his way.  When he wanted to come inside, we helped him up the steps. When he was looking for water, we would place the bowl in front of him. Cubby ate his meals alone and he could take an hour to eat, but we gave him all the time he wanted. When he had his 'accidents' we cleaned him up afterwards. It was his routine, and his life and we loved that he was part of our lives.
~Part of the gang in 2008, Cubby is 2nd on the right~ 
Cubby's time with us would end August 21, 2009.  The very same day that our boy Sam came to live with us.  He'd been fine that evening, but in the early hours of the morning I woke up to find that he was having problems breathing.  As I rushed him to the emergency vet, the song, "Heaven" by Los Loney Boys' played on the radio. The words  "I've been lost in my own place, And I'm gettin' weary, How far is heaven..." really stung my heart because I knew what was to come. An exam from the vet and I was given several options to try and save Cubby, but because he was so fragile, I felt it would be too much for him.  He was tired, and it was time to let him rest and say good-bye.  As I drove home afterwards it was just getting daylight, and once again, the song 'Heaven' played on the radio.  To this day, I never hear that song and not think of Cubby.

It is said that love is one of the greatest gifts we can share with our dogs.  In those quiet moments we truly shared and felt that from Cubby. For that, and for all he taught me about love, I will always be grateful.


  1. Its so wonderful that Cubby wound up with you and you gave him love and so much help. I'm sure the hardest part for Cubby was just getting to you. Being Brandy and dumped, then being Manny and not loved much, and then heaven at your home as Cubby.
    Bless you for all you do,Kim,

    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  2. Cubby was blessed to have found his home with you and your gang. What a sweet face.

    Nadine & goldens Neeli & Elle

  3. Cubby was such a beautiful dog and was so very lucky to end his days with you.

    This is a beautiful post, a wonderful tribute to sweet Cubby. I read it yesterday and was too choked up to comment.


  4. How did I miss this one? What a beautiful story Kim, Cubby was so lucky to have found you.

    It never surprises me how disposable animals are to some people. I'm just glad you and Carl were there to recycle Cubby and give him some peace and happiness, I'm sure it was probably the only real peace and happiness he'd ever had.

  5. What a wonderful story...It's making me weepy, but in a good way.
    Cubby was lucky to spend his last days with you all.

    Wyatt's mom

  6. A wonderful story about Cubby. It got me thinking about all the easy adjustments we make to accommodate the new senior Goldens that enter our lives. I haven't had nearly as many as you, but looking back I find that it's so easy and frankly I don't even think about it, I just do it. Cubby was a lucky boy - which proves, it's not always a bad thing when you have to lie. It can be a matter of life or death.

  7. What a lucky dog Cubby was to have found his guardian Angel. Thanks for adding this link to my blog :-)

  8. I want you to know it's very hard to read your blog... because of the tears in my eyes. What a lovely gift you are giving your charges.

  9. Very beautiful. Thank you for caring for the animals!

  10. Wow, thank you for sharing his story. I hold a special place in my heart for seniors, and Cubby’s story touched me. Thank you for making room in your life and heart for this lost senior. You gave him all the love and care he had been lacking, and became his angel.

  11. God bless you for caring for these noble canines. Goldens are one of my favorite breeds.

  12. If I were in charge of the world, I would give people like you whatever you wanted in recognition of your kindness.Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  13. A beautiful story. Thank you for giving Cubby a loving home and your loving heart. :)

  14. You obviously gave this senior dog a better life in the end than he had with owners who no longer wanted an old dog with issues. Lovely story! We have 4 resuces--3 pugs and a newf/mastiff mix that travel with us full time in our 5th wheel. When people asked us if we were taking all of our dogs with us, my husband would always answer, "you would take YOUR kids wouldn't you?" and that was that! :) Just bounced over from At the Farm.

  15. He was truly blessed to end up at your home. That's the best little white lie I have ever heard of. Soldier can't control his bowels either since he injured his back a few years ago. I think he is paralyzed back there. It's not too bad to clean up and I know he feels a lot worse about it than I do.

  16. What a great story - so many similarities with our group of seniors rescues. You did right by him. We are advocates for fitness & health and examine food & ingredients & the role it plays in your dogs health - interesting to read about the change you made in Cubby's food and how it helped him.


THANK YOU for taking time to read our stories. I hope you'll stop by again when the next story is posted.