Some time ago, AWL was helping abandoned and stray dogs at a gas station outside the (Navy) Support Site. The people that worked there were happy that we could help them with the sick dogs that were roaming around their area. We also could look after the healthy ones, finding them new homes.
We rescued one dog, Benjamin, who had a horrible skin condition and suffered with a high fever. No one wanted to foster him and not even the vet assistants wanted to hold him. That’s how my hospice idea was born but it wasn’t until several years later it came to fruition. Inside our basement garage, my husband built two big pens that we used for these souls that we wanted to help, but couldn’t let in our house or among the rest of our dogs. It became something like a hospice.
At the gas station we also found Abby, who was badly hit by a car. She lay on the cold ground, shivering and looking so scared. She is just a tiny little thing, and her condition made her look even more small and vulnerable. We brought her with us to the veterinarian clinic. What would later show on the x-rays will always be an amazing story.
Abby had a lot of nosebleeds, and we applied different treatments but nothing we tried helped her. Eventually, an x-ray was taken and it showed the hidden results of an old injury. Probably hit by a car, one of her canine teeth had broken off and gone through the gum and jaw and up into her nose! The wound had healed in her mouth, so nothing was ever seen during her many physical examinations. Poor Abby! But a great team got it out after 2 hours of surgery.
At the gas station we looked after some dogs that we had spayed and released. They were happy there. One day I got a phone call from the gas station’s boss. There was a gorgeous dog tied up, wearing a pink collar and with a leash. You could tell right away that it was someone’s pet. She had been tied up in the dark, alone by herself, for more than 12 hours. I picked her up, this sweet little female dog that was lovely and happy despite her plight and seemed ok with me, a stranger.
I found out that Lucy had a microchip and I called the registration office, which gave me the owner’s name and phone number (back then they did this). When I called, I got the definitive answer: No, they didn’t want the dog back!
At that time we had so many dogs in my home (23 dogs! Never get a big house). We couldn’t keep her with us. For some time, we had been helping a small shelter with food donations, cleaning their cages and walking their dogs; I called the President for the shelter and asked if she could help me with “Lucy”? It was urgent.
My daughter Olivia and I drove out to the shelter with a happy Lucy sitting in Olivia’s lap. When we got to the shelter, the owner of the shelter told me I could put Lucy in a cage. I stared at the President and then at Lucy.
No way, I couldn’t leave Lucy in a cage. She was a pet! She would not take that kind of condition.
This shelter was blessed with great volunteers. One of these volunteers came up to me and said she could foster Lucy for me.
That was how I met Martina. That day our friendship started, and since then Martina and her partner Pio, have helped AWL and me (and my family) a lot. They are integral to AWL’s success and operations in the Naples area. And they are a true friendship through all these years.
Lucy did great at Martina and Pio’s home, yet our joy exploded the roof off when Martina found a perfect home for her. Pio took the train up north with Lucy in his lap and handed her over to a wonderful lady with her cats and a Doberman. We received videos of Lucy with her new family, and have gotten regular updates for the past 4+ years.
A few of days ago, Lucy became sick and cancer was found inside of her. Lucy went through surgery but was still very sick. Her body was too weak and she didn’t have the strength to recover. Lucy died in the lady’s arms — in her Angel mom’s warm embrace, knowing she was loved to her last breath (and beyond).
It’s always heartbreaking when they leave us, but we take comfort in knowing she was a lucky dog. However, the luckiest are those who knew her. She taught us hope despite being abandoned. Lucy made sure I met Martina and Pio, and many years of hard and loving work rescuing would continue thanks to her.
Fly free little one, run effortlessly forever across the Rainbow Bridge. And thank you for giving me two great friends and volunteers.