When is it too late for a happy ending?

By Julie Madden

Two kinds of shelter dog stories catch our attention. The first kind revolves around immense sadness. A dog is abused, abandoned, forgotten, or in need of medical help. Sometimes the best outcome is an end to his or her pain.

The second is a happier version of the first. A dog overcomes challenges to finally be adopted and lives happily ever after. Hope and joy abound.

This is a story about two old dogs and I don’t know how it ends. The two main characters are 15-year old Beverly and 13-year old Susie Q. Of the two, Susie’s probably a better shot for a happy ending. She’s still engaging and silly, happy to sit and shake for a tasty treat. She loves being brushed or petted. Her issue is an inability to play well with other animals, especially cats and chickens. You’d think that wouldn’t be a huge factor in keeping her from finding a home, but Susie Q has been at the League for Animal Welfare almost eight years. The grayer she gets the more she seems forgotten by anyone who might be looking to adopt an only dog.

Beverly is a harder case, just because she is older and slower and shelter time has really taken its toll. And she has lived most of her life in the shelter. Deemed aggressive with dogs and possibly people, this stray was never reclaimed and certainly never adopted. She became a lifer, until recently she was given a second look and her interactions with others seemed mild. Maybe a function of her age and a realization she’s in no shape to win a fight, so why try.

Beverly came to Encore for the first time this past week. The old girl did pretty darn good. She’s cautious and shy when she first meets you but she ended up making friends with some of the staff. Her eyes gaze out into the distance and we don’t know if she can’t see too well, or is she just amazed to be seeing something different than her shelter run. She is frail and has arthritis that makes it hard for her to get up and down. Yet we see moments. Moments that suggest there’s still a thinking, feeling dog in there. Beverly did nose work and it was a joy to see her working boxes to find the food. And when she hears a treat bag open, she moseys right up with a little smile to get a special snack.

However Beverly’s story ends, it will probably end in a matter of months and not years. We would love if the story ended not as one of sadness, but at least a short happily ever after. And Susie Q – well she could hopefully spend a few years in a home where she could make folks laugh and forget their troubles. A happy ending for people and the dog. How good is that?

(Beverly and Susie Q are more than ready for immediate adoption at the League for Animal Welfare in Anniston AL).