As many of you supporters know, we have two hotlines to leave messages, an office phone number where counselors take calls Monday – Saturday, but I bet not many of you knew that I use my phone to receive text messages for help. The pet owners who text me are often experiencing homelessness, and text me at all hours of the day. Surprisingly, very few text me outside of normal business hours. Usually, pet owners want to know where they can get services, and I never hear from them again. Then there are the pet owners who text me often, sometimes to let me know they are ok, other times to let me know that they need someone to text them messages of support and hope because they are feeling alone and hopeless. Worse case scenario, I receive a text from a friend, letting me know that a pet owner has passed away, and they need us to find a home for the pet of the deceased client.
I remember getting the text from Diamond’s owner around 5:00AM on June 10th, letting me know that he had died. For the past month, we all knew that Diamond was ill, diagnosed with high proteins in his liver. He was not able to keep food down, and had been vomiting. In fact, Diamond had another appointment at the animal hospital the day he died. Counselor Amanda called his owner, and learned that she had walked to the animal hospital with his body, and had waited outside until the hospital opened because she wanted to make sure to have his body cremated.
Diamond’s owner sent me a text the following day. ” Thank you SO very much for all you’ve done for my Fur-Baby Diamond & I. Far most important to myself is being here for me in my time of need and wrenching loss.” Sometimes there is no one who understands what it’s like to grieve after the death of a pet, especially when one is homeless. I continued to check in with her via text to see how she was doing, and to make sure she understood that she had people who cared. The loss threw her into a deep depression. As she opened up to me, she explained that she had a devastating loss in 2006, losing two adult children in a bus accident. She told me that people around her didn’t get why she was still so sad, telling her, “He was only a dog.” For her and everyone at DDR there is no such thing as “only a dog”. We understand, our dogs are our family. Being together 24/7, she didn’t need to explain their bond to me.
I’m happy to report that I received another text recently, thanking all of the people at DDR who helped her. She sent me these photos, showing me what she had received from the cremation place. She was so grateful that she had his paw print and ashes. DDR covered all the costs, and made sure that she received Diamond’s ashes. I smiled as I read her text, “As soon as I get permanent housing, I shall be in touch with you so I can get a shelter dog to be my companion. I would like an old abandoned dog that no one wants, just like me. I know we will be a great team.”
I usually don’t post such personal messages from a client in a blog post or on social media, but Diamond’s owner asked me to share her experience, letting people know how important our support was to her. I felt that this case was important to share with all of you, who continue to support DDR because none of this would be possible without your support. Our work is not easy, is often humbling, and is so necessary for all the pet owners who feel as though no one gets them. They are not alone. They have all of us.