Foster homes are meant as temporary places of refuge until our dogs find permanent homes. When a family decides to keep the dog in their care, we lovingly refer to it as a “foster fail”. But in Gator’s case, it’s hard to know what to call it. His foster home has become his forever home, for reasons both heartbreaking and uplifting.
When Tara welcomed 10-year-old Gator into her home in February, he had spent his life neglected and chained in a yard. Yet in true bully fashion, this beauty with the rakish black eye patch and open grin was a joyful, tail-wagging example of this most forgiving breed.
But soon Gator was at the vet’s office after Tara spotted two worrisome black moles. Sadly, x-rays revealed a mass in his abdomen, while an ultrasound showed it was attached to his spleen. Surgery was not a good option for him given his age, the risks of surgery and metastatis, and the long and painful recovery that would result.
Why? “Because there was so much Gator had never experienced, so much living to do before the inevitable end. It just didn’t seem fair! I wanted him to enjoy whatever time remained, to know how much he’s been loved, and how worthy he was of having everything a dog should have.”
The bucket list
1) Have a play date with best fur friends, Rolley and Maisy.
2) Get spoiled at Three Dog Bakery.
3) Have a birthday party with cake, presents and a piñata.
4) Chew apart some stuffies.5) Play in the ocean
6) Take a doggie road trip.
7) Eat a steak dinner.
8) Have a pizza party.
9) Take a family photo.
10) Hike at White Pine and Buntzen.
11) Chew a Grade-A antler.
12) Chew a yak cheese stick.
13) Have a “pup cone” at Rocky Point Park.
14) Devour a home-baked cake.
15) Go for a swim with the awesome folks at Waterworkz Paw Spa
16) Eat a cheeseburger.
“Gator’s the perfect example of living in the moment,” explains Tara. “It’s so rewarding to see his wagging tail and warm, wide smile, and my son and I are so grateful to be sharing this adventure with him. He’s so full of life and love. He doesn’t know he’s old and that he has cancer. He runs and plays like a puppy, and adores belly rubs and snuggles.
“His favourite place to snuggle is in my bed with his head on the pillow – I think he thinks he’s a person. Despite his impossibly difficult life, he’s as sweet as can be, and people are always stunned that a dog with such a brutal past can be this loving.
“Gator was meant to be ours to love and foster until he found his forever home. But now, we’re his forever home, and my son and I wouldn’t have it any other way. As we smother him with kisses and hugs, we take comfort in the fact that our precious Gator will know only love for the rest of his life.”
Article by Nomi Berger.
Special thanks to Waterworkz Paw Spa for donating their exceptional services to Gator and his family.