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OFSDS: Saying Goodbye with Peace

At OFSDS we love our Old Friends and want to make their lives the best that they can be. We love being around them and getting to know every one of them for their own unique personalities. Being a part of OFSDS is amazing and we all feel privileged to be a part of these dog’s lives.

Even wonderful things have a grey side and, living with our Old Friends is not an exception. Sadly, we say goodbye more than we’d like to and have to accept that this is a part of what we’ve taken on.

This past week we especially had to remind ourselves of our philosophy that “We do not concern ourselves with the quantity of time that they have left, rather the quality of the life that we can provide them for that time” as we said Goodbye to three Old Friends who had not been with us for very long. Two of them were dogs who were displaced by hurricane Irma not that long ago. Eden came to us with a terrible cancer in her mouth that was very aggressive and Zolie was riddled with cancerous tumors especially along her mammary chain. We gave them the best life that we could until their illnesses took them over. Zolie even spent some time living with Sally, who is part of the OFSDS staff. Prince Charming, who was surrendered to a local animal control was afflicted with canine lupus. It was quite advanced and the treatment was very difficult on PC. We were between a rock and a hard spot with the illness attacking from one side and the treatment, heavy steroids, causing their own damage to his system. He was losing ground and we had to make the decision to let him go.

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Many folks ask how we can deal with this loss on a regular basis.
Remember the Serenity Prayer:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other….

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971)

It is in that Wisdom that we can find Peace.

There is nothing that we can do to change the past or the inevitable future for the dogs that we bring in. The only thing that we can affect is the here and now for our Old Friends. We can do our best to make them feel loved, comfortable, and part of a family.

Dogs already live by the words in the Serenity Prayer. They have it down. They focus on the moment. They do not dwell on the past or worry about their inevitable death. We can certainly learn from them. Because of their focus on the present, they can easily adjust to and cherish the comfort that we are able to provide them.

So many people ask how we can do it. How can we deal with the loss over and over again? There is no doubt that we are saddened by the passing of any of our Old Friends. We will miss each and every one of them. Isn’t that a small price to pay for having given these seniors a comfortable retirement, be it days, weeks, months or years? What would the alternative have been? Isn’t this a much better outcome?

We Celebrate Senior Dogs, focusing on the life that they have between their rescue and passing. They relax, they smile, they live their life to the fullest extent of their ability. They are happy for that time. Dogs do not dwell on their previous lives and handicaps as long as they are comfortable, loved and well cared for. We aim to provide that for as long as we can. It is in the knowledge that we were able to give contentment to these senior dogs that we find peace in their passing. When they are no longer enjoying a good quality of life and have no reasonable chance to return to a good quality of life, it is time to let them go.

We additionally hope that, by sharing our OFSDS family, our feelings and our stories, we can make others understand why we are able to do what we do. We aspire to encourage others to step in to open their hearts to this most underappreciated segment of the canine population. Wherever you live, there is a senior dog waiting for rescue. We hope that you will consider them when you are looking for a new canine family member.

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