A Best Last Day - A Series of Articles on "Fospicing" - Little Orange Buddha
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A Best Last Day – A Series of Articles on “Fospicing”



A Best Last Day

(For Mercedes, Elton and all the rest)


Sunshine kisses,

Gentle fingers fashioned

From the lightest breeze,

Tickle over your closed eyes,

Angled now to the bluest sky;

These last moments,

Were made just for you.


We surround you,

Our faces pressed against your grizzled cheeks,

As you totter on your rickety pins,

We followed your distant gaze,

Scratched the stowaways

Scurrying over that bent back,

Our throats tapering,

Eyes too slow to capture AWOL tears.


But you didn’t cry.

Away now,

From the blistering

Boomerang din,

Tossed from throat

To anguished throat

Away from that choir,

The frantic chorus, to which

You once lent your voice,

Bouncing wall to wall,

Dodge balls at your head;


Away from all of that;

And a million more miles

Away from what could have been.


If there is a moment of peace,

When all expectations slough away,

And all is as clear as the sky was on that day,

Where there is no place for even one roiling thought,

I wished that moment for you then;

As you angled your face

To receive the sun’s balm and blessing,

And surrendered your limbs to grassy ground,

On this,

What we wanted to be,

A best last day.


I remember a few moons ago, when I first took the helm of CACC, trainer Curtis Scott was attempting to raise awareness of the need to bring dignity to all of the animals who died anonymously as a result of a lack of space or for other reasons in the municipal shelter. At the time, I could not focus on that aspect of the “business.” I was too close to it. But I understood why he wanted these animals to be acknowledged: We lose something in our souls when we fail to cradle those who are scared or alone when they cross over. Curtis himself died way too soon — and he had just begun lending his dog whispering skills at the City shelter as part of an ad hoc “special ops” team for more challenging dogs — as I wanted the focus to be on how we could help them live.

I wrote the poem above after a long-term dog at the shelter had been returned following a tragic accident in her adopted home. The adopters were stoic, but heartbroken. And unfortunately, given the nature of the incident — the death of a smaller resident dog — the beloved shelter dog was not destined to leave the shelter again. So like a number of others, we gave her a best last day, hoping that would be all she remembered.

The subject of the next few blog posts is the challenging topic of limited time and how some folks make it their business to deal with it to create best last days … or best last weeks … or sometimes best last months. An open-admission shelter caters to whatever crosses the threshold and many animals enter very aged, ill or both, but still have some time. There are some stoic brave folks who are able to engage mindfully with these beings in their final moments, and help them cross the celestial street by becoming “fospice” parents, that is foster parents to terminal companion animals, and providing hospice-type care. They open their homes and hearts to what they know will be intense, if brief relationships. Stay tuned for their stories!

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  • 98
Susan Russell
  • Marge Summit
    Posted at 21:40h, 28 August Reply

    I adopted an older dog, 11 to be exact quite a while ago….i found her on Chicago Canine Rescue, and spoke to a wonderful lady
    at the time, who would lady become my very best friend…i told her i would need to bring her over when my grand babies would be
    here…first off we had to wait for her to have surgery, cancer in her boobs…so after the surgery and when my grand babies came in town
    she brought her over…her name was Zero….well she came in and laid right down in the hallway and never even flinched when the kids
    would be running up and down the hall way…so i told the lady from Ccr….she has found her new home, but later she would have more surgery
    have all her mammary glands removed, to prevent it from happening….i got her a great bed from Pier One…it was the cushion for the wicker seat,
    and since she was a pretty hefty babe, i thought she would love it…and then the romance began….she met the gentleman lab that lived upstairs
    of me, and it was love at first site…his owner was not to sure, cause he really didn’t like other dogs…but being the lady she was, she won his heart.
    we all use to go to the park daily for them to run and play at the beach, and they loved it…when they could no longer get into my SUV i got a ramp
    for them…I have had many dogs over my life time, but never one as good as she was. When turned 15 i knew we had to put her down..she was
    having trouble using the stairs, and had fallen a couple of times…so i called my dear friend from CCR, and said it was time…well it took over 2 hours
    to say goodbye to her, and we both balled like 2 babies…they sent a message to her vet that she had been put down…and the vet set me a letter
    stating that he made a sizable donation in her honor to CCR….that is how much she was loved by all who met her…i miss still and keep her pictures on
    my fridge to remind me of what a wonderful dog she was…so taking an older dog means you will give them love and make them happy till the end,
    and it is not easy, but i never regretted my decision….and i my health were better, i would do it again…

    • Susan Russell
      Posted at 13:57h, 29 August Reply

      Did you ever! And what a wonderful dog she was.

  • Geri Romano
    Posted at 15:54h, 04 September Reply

    I’m not done wiping the tears from reading both of these. God bless you…you two are truly one of the greatest gifts to these critters.

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