It's So Hard to Say Goodbye

Back in March of 2016, I pulled two dogs from a rescue in the central valley to begin their journey as Diabetes Alert Dogs. Little did I know then the pilgrimage we all were about to embark on. Now, one of those dogs, Luca, is celebrating her 1 year adoptiversary with her wonderful family, and Gilligan is....well...still Gilligan and still with me.

I'm sure many of you are familiar with Gilligan's history since you are here reading this blog. This guy has seriously had the worst luck. He was diagnosed with Chronic Cruciate Ligament Disease at around 10-11 months of age and just about the time he was finishing up his training with us. I diligently searched for a home that would love Gilligan and hopefully fund the surgery to fix both his back knees. A young man came along, begged me for Gilligan and promised me that his dogs were family and that he would care for Gilligan. Like an idiot I believed him and a couple months later I was receiving the email that he wanted to return Gilligan to me for reasons we had discussed in detail before the adoption and that should have been more seriously taken into consideration. That was a year ago that I drove to Oregon to fetch Gilly back, and now, he's still with me, still looking for his forever home, and still having health problems.

Over the past year both Alex and myself have done everything we possibly can to find Gilligan the right home. We have spoken with other 300 people inquiring about adopting Gilligan, we have facilitated over a dozen trial adoptions and meet and greets with potentially serious adopters; all of which have turned out passing on adopting or returning Gilly to us for one reason or another. One home someone was deathly allergic, another home a spouse was not keen on having another dog, another home said they were accepting a job that they would be traveling much of the time and couldn't properly care for Gilligan, others didn't like his energy level and most spooked at the thought of his bad knees. He was seen by a specialist in spring of this year and had extensive x-rays taken which confirmed his bad knees, but also, deteriorating elbows and hips. Surgery was not an option as it would be too difficult to fix everything and he wouldn't survive the surgery. The vet said that he seemed to be living with relatively little to no pain and to manage his condition with joint supplements and pain medication when needed and to continue to reassess his condition until his time came. I was so hoping to find a home for him to live out his years before that time came, but, it's looking like his time is approaching much faster than we anticipated.

A little over a week ago, Alex and I noticed a little round scab on one of Gilly's ears. At first I thought he had just played a bit too rough one day with the other dogs and had gotten a scratch so I kept an eye on it. But it kept opening up and bleeding and it seemed to be growing (it turned out to be the scab was growing because of the frequent bleeding but of course I was freaking out a bit and thought it was a growth.) A week went by and it wasn't healing and seemed to be getting worse so I made an

appointment at the vet and took him in. I was embarrassed to find that the lump that I was sure was a rapidly growing cancerous mass just turned out to be a scab, however, the vet did find a small upraised lump underneath it. To be safe, a smear of the cells was collected on a microscope slide and the vet said she'd check it out for abnormal cells as she wanted to make sure that the lump wasn't just inflammation from the wound. A few hours later the vet called and confirmed that both she, and another vet at the office, had taken a look at the sample and they both saw abnormal cells. She recommended more tests be sent out to the lab to get more information of what we were dealing with. Another call a few days later confirmed that it was most likely a benign mass that would heal up on it's own, however, there was a chance it was something more serious that would require surgery to fix it, which all things considered, wouldn't be an option for Gilligan. The vet said that in several months if it was still bleeding and not healing that we could do a biopsy to get even more information about what it was.

Alex and I have spent the last several days discussing all the options and sadly, have come to the conclusion that it might be best to allow Gilligan to go in peace now before things get worse and he is in more pain. There have been no shortage of people interested in him for adoption, but none end up adopting with all the things going on with poor Gilligan - honestly I don't blame any of them one bit for not taking him on. During the summer he seemed pain free 90% of the time, and frolicked in the yard with all the dogs, but now that winter and cold weather are upon us, he's much slower to get up off his bed, and I find myself giving him his pain pill more often then I used too. He seems to have good days and bad now where as before it was mostly good days. He seems stiff and sore half of the time, and not interested in doing some of the things that he so loved to do before like chasing bubbles in the backyard.

As heartbreaking as this decision is, we know that as much as we want too, we can't patch up Gilligan and his poor body isn't able to be fixed by surgery like we originally thought. Back in January I said that the motto of 2017 was It Is What It Is and I'm finding now that I have to continue to follow that phrase. We have talked with countless people, we have spread the word via social media, we have posted craigslist adds to generate interest and information, we have driven him to three different states for meet and greets, we have contacted other rescues and bully breed groups for courtesy postings.....I'm finally coming to the conclusion that I'm out of ideas for Gilligan and that it's been long enough that perhaps he wouldn't be as happy with anyone else. He has spent his entire life with Alex and I basically, and seems to bounce back each time he's returned and over the moon to see us each time we go to pick him up from a failed trial adoption.

So, Alex and I will give it one last go with a couple people that have shown interest in adopting Gilligan, but if those don't pan out we are going to let him go. I want to thank everyone who gave Gilligan a real shot at a happily ever after (you know who you are) and for those who have donated money to get him what he needs, and have supported him and us through this entire process. I'm always going to have a special place in my heart for this boy and he's taught me so much.


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