He spent over 10 yrs. on a chain in the back yard. He was an old pit bull that we found a few years ago, living on a chain with a nasty wooden dog house with holes in it. I kept going by and visiting this old man and trying to hopefully talk with the owners. Finally, one day a woman was out sweeping. I got out and talked to her about her old dog and she was receptive at the time. She told me that his name was Gotti.
That is when we discovered how old Gotti was-10 yrs. old. We heard every excuse in the book about why he wasn’t in the house (he doesn’t like it-yeah right!). They had a little house dog and here again we saw the division of how a house dog is treated and how an outside dog is treated. Unbelievable how they can do one like they were doing and treat the other one totally differently. We see this all the time.
We took Gotti a nice igloo the next week and got him off of his heavy chain and onto a tie-out cable. We began visiting this old man and keeping tabs on him. I had a long talk with the owner one day about how old this dog was. I told her that winter was coming and that he didn’t deserve to have to live outside through another winter. She agreed. I told her to prepare to bring him in or to sign him over to us, but he could not live outside this winter. Here is Gotti’s previous story:
These people did not want to neuter Gotti. Normally we wouldn’t help someone that doesn’t want to spay or neuter their animals. We could not walk away from this old dog though, we just couldn’t do it. We made his life bearable and more comfortable. He was so excited when the van pulled up. He needed us.
One day in January of 2013 it was very cold out. It had snowed quite a bit and there was an icy coating on things. We went right over to check on Gotti and there he was, trying to stand up on the ice, on his tie-out cable. He looked so cold. He lived on an incline and it was very icy. He couldn’t even walk out there. He was going to fall and break a bone or something. Erica and I looked at each other and I said, “I’m going to the door!”
The owner came to the door and I said, “remember when I told you that there would come a day when Gotti couldn’t be out here anymore?” She said yes. I said, “Today’s the day.” I told her that she either needed to bring him inside right there and then and keep him in the rest of the winter or she needed to sign him over to us and we would take him. After thinking about it for a min and listening to her kid cry when he obviously didn’t care about the dog either, she told me that she “couldn’t (let me translate for you-WOULDN’T) bring him in and she would let me take him. I was so glad. I went outside and told Erica and she unhooked him for the last time and carefully walked him down the icy hill to the warm van.
We got him back to Chain of Hope, gave him a warm bath, canned food and water and put him to bed on a soft bed for the first time in his life-at almost 12 yrs. old.
We named our new boy Reggie-he had to lose his old name with his old life. We all loved him immediately. He wasn’t in the best of shape, he was very old and he tested positive for heart worms. Our veterinarian did not think it was advisable to put Reggie through heart worm treatment. We also did not want to put him under anesthesia to neuter him at this age either. We honestly thought that we would be giving Reggie the best last months of his life. We were all dedicated to keeping him warm, well fed, pain free and happy for as many days as he had left. He stayed in my office with Abby and they were the best of friends. Reggie got a lot of attention because there were always people in and out of the office and he loved every bit of it. He also loved food-a lot! Any chance he had to sneak a treat, help himself to your lunch or rip open a box of something, he would do it. Here’s some pictures I wanted to share of Reggie “scoring”! Good for him!
This amazing dog became our mascot. Everyone knew Reggie! He loved to go for walks. We had a large grassy area and he loved to go out there without a leash on and just wander. Of course, one of us was right there to watch him, but he loved nothing more than to just wander and smell, go where he wanted, and pee on everything! Besides food, this was probably one of his most favorite things. Reggie had been so confined for so many years, so constricted with his movements. He had his circle that his cable allowed him to go in and that was it. Such a small space-no wonder Reggie just loved to walk, smell and go where he wanted. So we let him!
Reggie was very popular! He had a lot of friends who all loved him very much. You just could not help but love this dog!
Going to get cheese burgers with Leah!
Reggie was old and he did nap a lot. Always comfortable, always on a soft dog bed.
Reggie had a great life at Chain of Hope. When his first birthday with us rolled around, we could not believe he was still with us, but we were so grateful that he was. We threw a birthday party for him-doggie cake and all! And yes-he ate the whole thing!
Well, much to our surprise and our happiness, lo and behold another birthday rolled around! We had had Reggie for 2 whole years and we felt so blessed! We feel bad because we kept saying we had to have another birthday party for him, but we were so incredibly busy and constantly running and we did not do it. That makes me sad to think about sometimes. But I know Reggie understood and would rather us be out there helping and saving other dogs that are in bad situations like he was.
We, of course, kept our eye on Reggie’s old house. We had gone back and loaded up our dog house that we had given him-didn’t want to make it too easy for them to chain another dog up back there. Well, of course, after a year or so, one day when I drove by to check there were 2 pit bulls chained to their fence. They had no food, no water and no shelter. I called them into animal control and they actually impounded them! I’ll be damned if these people are going to do to another dog what they did to Reggie. Not on our watch! The only dog still at this house is their house dog. We continue to watch. We never forget.
Reggie had been on daily pain meds for his arthritis almost the entire time he’d been with us. We kept him comfortable. It was harder and harder for him to get up, walk, etc. One Sunday morning I came in and there was a note that Reggie had fallen down the front 3 steps that evening. He was ok, but they were letting me know. I went into his room to wake him up and helped him get his back end up off the floor. He started to walk outside and I noticed that he could not walk in a straight line. He could only walk almost sideways and he stumbled a lot. That, with other symptoms, and we knew that Reggie had most likely had a stroke. He was disoriented. What we hadn’t wanted to happen, but knew that someday it would, was happening. We were at the end and we knew it. We were going to have to let our old, special, joyful boy go.
We waited until the next day so some of the volunteers had time to come down and tell him good-bye. We knew that would be a hard day, but it was even harder than we had prepared ourselves for. We wanted Reggie to stay with us for 10 more years! The reality was, though, that it was time. We felt so blessed to have had him for 2 yrs., 5 mo. and 26 days. We told our old friend good-bye. Thinking about his entire life, though, I’d have to say, Reggie went out with a bang! The last 2 1/2 yrs. of his life couldn’t have been any better and for that we are very, very grateful.
I would look at Reggie and I marveled at him. He was resilient, tough as nails and persistent. I looked at him when I felt like giving up and I couldn’t even believe all that he lived through. It made my problems look pretty small and doable.
I learned 2 important life lessons from Reggie. One is to keep on going! Reggie had spunk, tenacity, and perseverance. He kept living on that hill until he was finally set free. When I am having bad days (and there are many given the work we do), I think about Reggie-how he just kept going, just kept pushing through, and stuck things out. He was waiting for rescue and he finally got it! He stuck out his horrible life until he reached heaven on earth. Better days will be ahead is one thing I learned from Reggie-just keep pushing through.
The other thing I learned as I watched Reggie was to enjoy life! Stop and smell the roses, or the bushes, or the fire hydrants : ). And make sure you pee on each and every one of them! It took very little to make Reggie happy! A soft bed, a food bowl that never empties, hands that never stop petting, and soft voices that never stop telling him what a good boy he was! He loved his walks and got excited when it was his turn to go for a walk or just go to the yard and meander as he pleased for hours. The last few months, I had an inkling as I watched Reggie slow down. He loved his walks so much, I committed myself to walking him every single morning for the rest of the time we were blessed with him. We might have missed a time or two, but Reggie and I headed out together at some point every morning and I loved those times with him. Reggie had “joie de vivre”-an exuberant enjoyment of life! I will always remember his joy!
We have all been blessed to have had Reggie in our lives. How fortunate we have been and what better people we are from knowing him. We love you, Reggie. We march on in your honor.