Teddy’s Tale … Or … How We Got the Gold Back

(As told by Sarah Gieszl, Teddy’s rescue)

 

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Flashback to January 2015: Dan and I excitedly moved into our first home. Scooter, my best friend and wonderful 8-year-old Golden Retriever, was as gleeful as we were with the move. He immediately “owned” the back yard with fetching tennis balls. Our first order of business wasn’t the typical, “What color should we paint the kitchen?” Instead, we started filling out adoption forms for another Golden.

Anyone who has adopted a dog knows the process. First, check online for available dogs; second, fill out an application; third, pass a home check; four, wait … wait; five, repeat Teddy3Teddy4the steps until the call finally comes and you hear the three magic words, “We have a Golden.” For us, step four stretched into a year.

 Being somewhat impatient, Dan and I decided to foster various dogs, mainly Pits. Fostering is something we are committed to. But one day we welcomed Lady, a wonderful senior (and slobbery) Saint Bernard rescue. Eight-years old with no teeth, chronic colitis and an enormous tongue that constantly hung out of her mouth, Lady was quite a sight. Scooter and Lady became fast friends. Lady was a “forever foster” due to age, but we signed 

Teddy5adoption papers anyway! Six months into our wait for a second Golden, Scooter was diagnosed with the highest-grade histiocytic Sarcoma of his left elbow. He had months to live. After his leg amputation in July, Scooter was an active tripod who --- like a true Golden --- never stopped fetching his tennis ball or wagging his tail. During hospice, 

he slowly, gently wagged his tail as he gazed at me, occasionally licking my hand and sighing as he dosed. Scooter succumbed to cancer on Christmas Eve in 2015. I lost my best friend; our house lost its “Gold.”

At the turn of 2016, we experienced all those feelings that somehow sound trite when 

described in writing. We felt “lost” without our Scooter. We had “sinking” feelings every 

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day. We expected to see him when we came home. We had to put this grief in the context of what we had experienced after Scooter’s 

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diagnosis: a crash course in learning to “live in the moment” and be “mindful” to put it in current parlance. We didn’t anxiously count days trying to neither predict the moment of death nor ask a series of “what ifs” as a laundry list of regrets about the past. We simply loved Scooter and helped him remain comfortable and peaceful … with lots
of pets and, of course, a tennis ball. 

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Scooter’s death humbled Dan and me because we learned so much from him. Yes, Scooter was “just a dog” but we believe that a dog is among the best teachers of many things in life.

Lady too was sad after Scooter passed. She looked for him all over our small house. We continued to wait for a Golden, but our hands were tied to the timing of someone making the difficult decision to surrender their Golden or the horrible decision to abandon their Golden. Unexpectedly, Beaux came on to the scene. A Golden? Nope. A young, spry but ever so lazy Saint rescue, Beaux immediately won us over. Lady seemed to think she miraculously, unexpectedly delivered another puppy. She treated Beaux as her own. 

Teddy10Teddy11On April 7th, 2016 we got that call! The rescue was headed to the Apache Junction shelter to pick up a Golden. The shelter photo via email revealed a skinny, older, red Golden, much like Scooter. Once at our house, Teddy required no “introduction”—he walked through the front door with his tail wagging and ran to greet the Saints. And they welcomed him. Teddy was “home.” Small in comparison to his Saint siblings, he could walk under Beaux, and did so regularly. Sadly, Teddy did not know how to fetch. In fact, he did not know what a tennis ball was and was perplexed by a squeaky toy! And he was sick. What kind of life had Teddy lived?

Teddy12Teddy13The next weeks and months revealed that Teddy indeed had a rough life. He came with diagnosed Tick Fever, which proved to be one of the most stubborn cases our vets have seen. He had chronic nosebleeds for two weeks, and despite our best cleaning efforts, his coat morphed into a light pink color. (Teddy proved that poodles are not the only breed that rocks colored fur!) Next came hypertension, kidney issues, hip dysplasia, and liver problems followed by hypothyroidism. (He lost half of his once thick coat and seemed embarrassed by his patchy, scalped appearance. “Woof!”) But Teddy smiled and wagged his tail and licked our hands and played
with the Saints. Our vet Liaison, Andie, was there for us every step of the way. Late night calls, so many vet visits, CT scans and all the unknowns, RAGofAZ and Andie never once let us feel like we were alone in this.

Teddy14Today, thanks to love and science, Teddy is doing well. He has daily medications, weekly physical therapy swim lessons to avoid hip surgery, and acupuncture/cold laser therapy. He has a newly grown, beautiful reddish gold coat. Once dragging his back paw due to hip pain, he now runs a mile a day and “bunny hops” when a leash comes out. He is a friend to all, which is to say Teddy never met a creature he didn’t love: birds, cats, rabbits, basically anything that breathes. Teddy clearly views himself as a Golden, not a Golden Retriever.

Teddy was dealt a bad hand. Abandoned in Apache Junction as a wobbly, weak senior with multiple medical challenges, he faced a painful death as a stray or the short list to euthanasia due to age and infirmity. Thanks to RAGofAZ, Teddy got the perfect home --- one that was ready to live in the moment, no matter what that moment brings.

And all our home needed was to get its Gold back. Thank you, RAGofAZ.