At iHeartDogs we love to bring you heartwarming and uplifting stories. However, we also think it is important to tell the sad tales sometimes, too.
Devoted animal rescuers like Janine Guido do not have the option to turn away. They cannot simply scroll past the hopeless cases.
In honor of Guido and the countless other rescuers doing their best to save, comfort, and rehome as many dogs as they can, we bring you the story of Watson.
Janine Guido is the founder of Speranza Animal Rescue in Mechanicsburg, PA. When she first me Watson, she hoped he could be saved, but soon his eyes told her everything she needed to know. He was tired of fighting.
Found by a college student in a Philadelphia park, the dog was weak, emaciated, and covered in sores. A local emergency vet cared for him for several days, but the prognosis was not good. Watson had a large cancerous tumor on his leg, and the disease appeared to have spread throughout his body. There was nothing left to do but keep him comfortable.
Guido took Watson in, bringing him back to her rescue facility. Instead of simply setting him up in a cozy kennel with food and water, something told Guido she needed to stay by Watson’s side.
“I had a gut feeling that things weren’t going to be good the next day,” she told The Dodo. “I didn’t want to leave him alone. Not when he needed me the most.”
Instead, Guido collected a stash of dog beds and blankets. She laid them out in the laundry room and snuggled up with the dying dog. She spent the night stroking his head and speaking sweetly to him. Watson fell asleep and enjoyed what may have been his first and only night in the arms of a loving human.
“He slept like a rock all night, cuddled up to me so tight,” Guido said. “I cried myself to sleep, and woke up in tears as well.”
The next morning, Watson refused to eat or drink. He paced in circles. Guido brought him to her vet, and at 10:28 AM, she held him and kissed him as he took his final breath.
We will never know if Watson knew love or kindness before his rescue. But even if it was just one night, Guido takes comfort in knowing she was there for him in his greatest moment of need.
“I’m just so thankful I was able to hold him tight for his last night,” Guido said. “I was telling him how much he was loved — and that his life mattered. My heart is breaking, but I would not change a thing.”
It’s no wonder so many animal care workers and rescuers suffer from compassion fatigue. They are under so much pressure to save the sick, rescue the homeless, and love those the rest of the world has forgotten. Unfortunately, every story cannot have a happy ending.
If you would like to honor Watson’s memory and show Guido you appreciate her mission, consider making a donation to Speranza Animal Rescue. You can also help by supporting your local shelter or rescue group.
Can’t spare the cash? Here are 15 totally free ways you can help shelter dogs and the staff who care for them!