Imagine yourself as an elderly dog, eating dirt, rocks, whatever you can find. Hunger pains never ending, not knowing when your next meal might come. Finding yourself wandering the streets, then taken to a strange, frightening place with concrete floors and metal bars. Your family eventually comes for you – not once, not twice, but five times. They let you go to this place five times in five years.
And eventually, they no longer come for you.
That was Lacie’s life. Over the course of five years, this sweet 13-year-old Pit Bull found herself picked up as a stray in Bartlesville, Oklahoma and taken to the local animal shelter. Each time, her owner eventually came for her until this last time, when the owner chose to claim only one of her stray dogs and left Lacie behind.
Emaciated dogs in Lacie’s condition face the threat of organ failure and most shelters don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to their recovery. When Lacie arrived at the shelter, she weighed only 37 pounds, was frail, and given her advanced age, the staff knew she needed immediate care or she wouldn’t make it. An emergency call was put out to one of the shelter’s star foster homes with a plea: “Can you help?” Helen Bresson answered the call.
Foster Mom to the Rescue
A long-time dog foster, Helen is no stranger to underdogs. Her current pack of three elderly canines is filled with dogs a lesser person would have given up on. Although her home was full, Helen knew she needed to make room for one more. She immediately went to the shelter and met Lacie, who laid her head on Helen’s knee and sighed. Helen said her first thoughts were, “You’re such a loving dog, how could someone do this to you?”
That first night, Helen feared Lacie wouldn’t make it. She showed no interest in food and was so weak, she could barely stand. Finally, after several hours of offering every type of dog food she had, Helen found a combination Lacie would eat.
As the days progressed, Helen created a nutrition-packed combo of small meals to help Lacie gain weight and get her out of the danger zone. At night, Lacie would come up to her, putting a paw on the couch, almost as if she were asking permission. Encouraged to climb up, Lacie would curl up next to Helen or actually climb on her lap, and fall into a deep sleep.
That first week, Lacie gained 8-1/2 pounds! Over the course of the next few weeks, Lacie gained over 13 pounds and found herself well on the way to recovery.
Then the bad news came: One of Helen’s elderly dogs, Marshmallow, had a fast-growing tumor on his leg with small melanomas in several spots. Imminent surgery loomed. Helen knew she wouldn’t be able to care for a 100-pound dog recovering from extensive surgery, her other two dogs, as well as continuing Lacie’s recovery. With a heavy heart, she shared her situation with the shelter, who said to bring Lacie back the following week.
Lacie’s Chance to Shine
Through tears, Helen shared all this with me. We decided Lacie needed a second chance, so we went to a popular park and did a photo shoot, highlighting Lacie’s physical recovery and showing her for the dog we knew she could be. As we walked through the park filled with people, dogs, and the occasional squirrel, Lacie basked in the sunshine and stood proud as I photographed her from all angles.
The fateful day came for Lacie’s return to the shelter. Sobbing, Helen begged the shelter to find her another foster or forever home and not leave her in a kennel. A kindly staff member took her home, where Lacie has been temporarily staying the past week.
One More Chance
Over the course of 13 years, Lacie’s been through a lot – hunger, neglect, abandonment. Yet in the last month, she’s known love. She’s known the touch of a kind hand and the sound of a gentle voice. Her bed is soft. Her belly is full. The only thing left is a place to call home.
Lacie is good with other dogs, good with kids, and loves ice cream cones! If you’d like to adopt Lacie or be considered for a long-term foster, please contact Erika with the Washington County SPCA at (918) 440-1303 or email [email protected] Help an old dog find that place to call home.
Featured image via Tyler Dog Photography