WOOF! Friday (Wagging On and On Forever!)-- Guest post by Sharon Azar, animal activist. Please check out Sharon's WOOF! Petfinder listing for pets up for adoption in NYC area.
I had planned on a quiet weekend, taking things slow and tying up some loose ends. Then a call came in from Lisa, a social worker assigned to the case of Jose Salgado, a 92 year old man living on the upper west side of Manhattan who just suffered a stroke. “Please, can you help?” Lisa’s voice was urgent. As she explained who she was, she described her client’s dog, El Duke, a senior Belgian Sheepdog, all alone in the apt. where he lived with Jose for 14 years. Jose was now in a nursing home and his former home care attendant was coming in to walk and feed El Duke.
“He has to be out by Monday!” Lisa continued. I immediately e-mailed the entire rescue community across the U.S. and was soon flooded with concerned e-mails along with a few real offers to foster El Duke. We went to meet El Duke. The apartment was dark and depressing. Little mice and roaches were scurrying around. He had been alone for days and was walking round and around looking his best friend, Jose. I learned that Jose had been refusing to go to a doctor for many months for fear of being away from his dog for even a few hours, but his health was failing and eventually a stroke separated the friends.
El Duke looked so bereft. His eyes spoke; “where is my person; what’s happened to him?” He had trouble getting to his feet due to arthritis and I noticed two large benign tumors and an infected eye. Aside from these problems, El Duke is a gorgeous black dog with big ears, like antennae reaching out for love, and gentle as a deer. Jose’s nurse, Marian and I cleaned the apartment as best we could, walked El Duke in the park across the street and spent some quality time with him on his blanket. We telephoned those people who offered to foster him, but they all lived in walk up apartments. El Duke could not make the stairs.
Enter Marion’s friend, Sue Coe. I knew the name—a fine artist and activist known for her deep involvement in social causes and a profound concern for anyone in need.
Sue Coe said that if we couldn’t find a foster for El Duke, she’d take him into her home in upstate New York. Marion, Sue and I met on Sunday. at Jose’s apt. where there was a gathering of some of his friends and a group of rescue people. This time, the lights were on and the apartment had a cheerier feeling. Jose’s friend, Omar, said “I will tell Jose that his best friend and companion will be well cared for.” We all made a vow that as soon as Jose was able to travel we’d take him up to Sue’s house to see El Duke.
So, my weekend wasn’t laid back, quiet or relaxing--it was rich and full of energy, meeting nurse Marian and activist/artist Sue and sweet El Duke; a blessed coming together in what otherwise might have been a tragedy.
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