Story and photo submitted by Julie Busa, Fitchburg, MA

Phinney's Friends is a local organization that helps people with their pets. Charlie's owner was in the hospital, so Phinney's Friends connected with the doggy daycare I was working at and had him stay there while the owner recovered. After the owner was home, a couple of us went to the home to see if he was able to take care of him after concerns from the daughter. We had some concerns, but he agreed to letting Charlie come to daycare every day (no charge to him) and I would pick him up and drop him off. The owner loved Charlie very much, but needed support to care for himself and just wasn't able to give Charlie the proper attention necessary. It was a difficult situation, but with some gentle prodding, Charlie's owner was able to see that the most loving thing he could do would be to let him go.

Phinney's Friends isn't a rescue and I was concerned about finding Charlie a home (he was 12 years old at the time). I convinced my boyfriend to let us take him, saying he was old and wouldn't be around long anyway. So, I officially adopted him. He was 12 years old, completely deaf, partially blind and had lumps and bumps all over his body. The entire time he was with me, I can't even begin to say how often I had him at the vet and how much money I poured into him. And this was not doing anything invasive. We knew he may have cancer or some other problem that compromised his immune system, but he was too old to do anything invasive.

This little dog wormed his way into my heart in ways I can't even describe. In the end I was literally carrying him in and out of the house to do his business. He was stubborn, loud, demanding, he smelled, his ears were constantly filthy and he was pretty independent. When he wanted my attention he let me know by either head butting me or batting me with his paw. And I LOVED him.

The daughter of his former owner kept in touch with me through email all the time and I sent her updates. They came to visit him the month before he passed. Every milestone he passed I pushed for longer. He lived longer than I expected. I had a birthday party for him when he turned 14 (not something I normally do). A little over a month later he let me know it was time. I miss him every day and it was a heartbreaking loss. But Charlie is the reason I want to take in older dogs. As heartbreaking as it is, it is so worth it. I wouldn't have changed a thing. At the moment, lack of funds is the only thing stopping me from taking in more dogs. But once that changes, that is my plan.

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