Mario was blessed to have had the chance to spend his last months in the loving home of Pet Haven volunteers Sharon and Barbara. Here are their reflections:
"Mario came for a couple of weeks, and stayed almost nine months. That kind of thing seems to happen with a lot of our "respite" foster dogs. They're supposed to stay for a couple of days while a new foster arrangement is worked out, and in the end we become the new foster moms. With Mario it was a little different, though. After a time those other dogs found their forever homes and left our care. Mario, it turned out, had a liver tumor, along with severe arthritis, and was not adoptable. He needed a place to live the rest of his life, which would probably not be too long. And so Mario entered "hospice care" in our home.
Mario was about 12 1/2 years old when we picked him up just before Thanksgiving. He had a little trouble walking very far, and trouble climbing up steps. If he was laying on the wood floor, he couldn't get up again on his own, but if we managed to convince him to lay down on one of the rugs, he could push himself up and stand. He loved his food and would bark, almost without breathing, until the bowl was down in front of him. And he loved his treats.
He also loved his walks, though he couldn't walk very far on his own. We didn't want to leave him home alone when we walked our two dogs, and Liz from Lulu and Luigi came to the rescue with the loan of her own doggie stroller. Mario looked so happy when we took him out and he could smell all the good outside smells. People would do double takes when they realized there was a little white dog in the stroller.
With love, care and quite a few medications, Mario held his own for about 6 months. In the last three months he had more trouble getting up even on rugs, until he couldn't raise himself up at all any more. He was no longer able to go down the stairs to the back yard on his own, so we carried him down as well as up. But he still perked up when it was meal time or when we put him in the stroller for a walk.
In early August it was clear to us that he was struggling much more to just move and breathe, and we made the difficult decision to euthanize him. Our Pet Haven leadership was so supportive and understanding, and they trusted that we would know when it was the right time. Mario went very peacefully, and we cried but knew that he was no longer suffering. We were glad to have those 9 months with him and he'll always have a special place in our hearts."
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you Barbara and Sharon for opening up your heart to a beautiful spirit and giving him the most beautiful 9 months he could've ever imagined. Thank you for your selfless act. There's a bright star now up in the night skies ... it's Mario and he's shining down on us and he will forever live on in your hearts.