3 years and 10 days. That’s how long I was blessed with Susie.
Susie was pulled by Cause for Paws of NC (CFP) from Franklin County Animal Shelter. She was part of a cruelty case where the owners abandoned their animals in the home. Her and the other dogs that were still alive had resorted to drinking toilet water and eating drywall and feces to survive. She was in horrible shape with a body condition score (BCS) of 1, which is less than 20% of her ideal body weight. Infected ears, deep scars around her neck, invasive tumors, and a smell that could offend a maggot. She was painful to look at, but I loved her still.
On June 6, 2017, Susie had her tumors removed and biopsied. Dr. Cindy called me about 7 days later, with the news that she had cancer. Her prognosis wasn’t great with cancer and heartworms, so was given approximately 6 months to enjoy life. Because of this diagnosis, she was designated as a “hospice foster” where CFP would allow her to live out her life with me, but would cover the cost of her medical care. I was so grateful for that.
I decided a bucket list was appropriate for such a wonderful dog, so that’s what we did. We had so many wonderful adventures and had so much support along the way.
Her completed bucket list (#suePoosbucketlist):
- Saved from the shelter (April 24, 2017)
- Reached a body condition score of “ideal”
- Successfully made it through surgery to remove her mammary tumors
- Slept on a soft bed
- Played with her own soft squeaky toy
- Snuggled on the couch
- Made a friend
- Hung out at a brewery (we went to so many breweries!)
- Went on a car ride to the park
- Swam in Lake Montague
- Dressed up for Halloween (superwoman and a “pride bride”)
- Sunbathed on the porch
- Shopped at the pet store
- Celebrated her birthday (we celebrated 3 of those)
- Sported Triangle K9’s prototype swag
- Took a photo with Santa
- Said goodbye to an old friend
- Attended a Valentine’s Day Party
- Attended a puppy party
- Dressed up for Mardi Gras
- Excelled in a leash walking class
- Marched in the St. Patrick’s Day parade
- Featured in the Wake Forest newspaper
- Found Easter eggs at the Spring Fling
- Helped train a leash reactive dog
- Went to a Dix Park Popup Dog Park
- Assisted with the check in table at Hike for Hounds
- Played in the snow
- Pampered at a Spa Day at Unleashed
- Watched a K9 demo at a Sit, Stay, NCMA Movie Party
- Saw friends at the Green Monkey
- Relaxed in a field of flowers
- Frolicked through the Sunflower fields
- Watched baseball at Bark in the Park night at the Durham Bulls
- Attended a New Year Party
- Became the star of a photoshoot
- Snuggle with by bestie
- Felt the sand between her toes at the beach
- Advocated for her puppy’s adoption with Paws for Life (Goldie was adopted!)
- Participated in a Pup Crawl
- Danced at a 90’s Bar
- Helped Mom pack for a trip
- Nominated as “Foster Story of the Year” at the World Dog Expo
- Had fun at a foster appreciation party
- Supported a CAB adoption event
- Helped Mom with laundry
- Hosted a German Shepherd Meet Up
- Took my blood draws and vaccines like a champ
- Survived Hurricane Florence (even though the storms were scary)
- Wore a flower crown
- Visited Mom’s alma mater
- Cooled off in the Neuse River
- Gave kisses for the kissing booth
- Dominated in Dance Dance Revolution at Boxcar
- Stole a puppy from the puppy pen
- Camped with her favorite people
- Educated the public on the effect of lax animal abuse laws in North Carolina via a news broadcast
- Attended a foster appreciate meet up with all her friends
- Danced at a 90’s bar
- Adopted by someone that loved her more than anything (July 5, 2018)
- Visited her friends over the rainbow bridge (May 3rd, 2020)
Whenever I had guests over, I would barely say hi before saying, “Do you want to see Susie?!” She was one of the favorite parts of myself. A rags to riches story. A story of blooming in adversity.
I started to see Susie’s health decline over the last year. First came the limping and favoring one leg. She began to lose her hearing and eventually lost the rest. She started losing traction in her paws so we had to put a rug by her water and food bowls. Then she had trouble sleeping. She would stay up for most of the night, getting super anxious and walking around in circles, forgetting where she was going. It was heart breaking to watch. The vet told us she had osteoarthritis (in addition to cancer) and recommended a supplement and a few medications to help turn her around.
Me, my girlfriend, and one of best friends were watching a movie on Netflix when Susie took a turn for the worse. She had a seizure in front of everyone, right on her bed. I started to cry, but quickly composed myself because I knew she could likely hear me. It was so hard to watch, but her recovery was quick. I was hopeful. However, she declined in 24 hours and had multiples. I’m so thankful to Lap of Love for allowing her to pass peacefully, in my arms at home.
Susie was around for some important years in my life. She’s seen me change careers. She was there for me when I had just moved into my new home. She’s mentored countless fosters. She saw me start a dream. She saw me find love. She saw me grow into a 30 year old. She had this way about her that I don’t think most dogs have…this calm, confident presence. I couldn’t have picked a better dog as a part of the pack. She never let me down. I just wish she didn’t have cancer, and didn’t have to grow old.
I think I’ll miss her snoot kisses and her conveniently rubbing her face all over my leg. And getting to come downstairs after a day of work, just to lay on the floor with her. Just knowing that she’s around makes me so much calmer. When she wasn’t around, I always panicked wondering where she was or if she needed help.
I am so thankful to Diane Lewis for capturing her essence and my love for her in a photo shoot at the North Carolina Museum of Art earlier this year. It was one of the last photos I took with her.
I’m also incredibly overwhelmed by everyone’s love and support leading up to this day. So many people have shared their stories about Susie or how her story impacted them and that has helped me immensely in my healing process. I know the next few months will be tough but I’ll have plenty of memories and all of my pictures of my extremely well documented dog to remember her and how she helped me be the person I am today.
It’s still hard to accept that she’s actually gone. I find myself looking around the yard for her after the rest of the pack comes inside for the evening. Waiting for her 10:30PM reminder that it’s time to go outside. I think that’s going to be the biggest adjustment, actually believing that my girl is gone. I’ll miss you Sue Poo…you’ll always be part of the pack.