A few months after Sedona passed away, I was visiting Newark Shelter and came across one scruffy looking senior husky. The fur along his hind legs and back was matted and dirty and he was slow getting up with his back legs. He had an inquisitive look on his face as I walked by his kennel run that was calling me to take him outside for a walk. Once outside, I noticed that he had a bandana with Arizona State University logo on it, which is appropriately right outside of Phoenix. He got his new name “Phoenix” on the spot. Clearly, Phoenix was on his last legs, literally as his back legs were stiff and shaky and he was wobbly when he first stood up. Nonetheless Phoenix ambled along down the street when we went for a walk.
Having worked with the executive director at Newark over the years helped to allow me to take Phoenix for a day to a vet that specialized in rehabilitating and evaluating older dogs with muscular and skeletal diseases and issues. Unfortunately, the exam showed that there was little at this point that could be done for Phoenix. He had severe arthritis, spinal issues, as well as some type of bladder and possible colon disease.
During the exam Phoenix just took things in stride, enjoying the company of everyone he met. It was evident that Phoenix was not going to get out of Newark Shelter. There were no rescues that would take him in or take on such a project dog.
While sadly it is true in rescue that “you can’t save them all,” it doesn’t mean we don’t try. The staff at Newark Shelter does an admirable job in a tough neighborhood, but it wasn’t the place for a dog like Phoenix to spend his last days. We pulled Phoenix and brought him home to spend his last week with us. Since he had issues with his bladder we couldn’t give him free range of the house, so we set up a nice comfortable area in the basement for him. Figuring that between his hind legs being so weak and having issues just getting up our front steps, we just put a gate up against the stairs in the basement assuming that would be sufficient.
One afternoon, while working from home in my office on the second floor, I looked away from my computer and over my desk to see his face staring up at me, wondering what I was up to. Somehow he made it up 2 and a half flight of stairs, in stealth mode to end up in my office. Pretty amazing. We had Phoenix for a week before he had a serious complication with his internal organs. It was a short but rewarding week and I like to think that some of Sedona’s spirit resided with Phoenix.