Rescue Tails / What is forever? 

Contributed by FKSPCA Staff

Forever. The Dictionary defines forever as “for all future time and always” or “lasting or permanent.” We use the term “forever” or affectionately “furever” often in the shelter world. For every adoptable animal in our care, the goal is a forever home. When we use the term “forever” we mean the last home they’ll ever have, the one they live out the rest of their days in. The home that is never disrupted, where they won’t be passed on to another family, or given away online, or returned to the shelter. Sometimes it takes more than once to get forever right.

Gino was one of the most sweet, handsome and happy dogs to come through our Marathon Campus. He’s one of those dogs you can’t forget. He had long legs, a chubby body with huge orange patches, a white face with one icy blue eyes and ears that were a little too small. He was well behaved and eager to please showing off his “sit” and “give paw” for a treat. He was laid back and loved to cuddle, even at a year old, he was a bit of a couch potato.

In 2018 he was surrendered to our Marathon Campus when his owner could no longer keep him. It’s always heartbreaking when you watch a well-loved family member being surrendered to the shelter, and I wish I could tell you it was the one and only time.

He was quickly adopted into a wonderful local family, only to be surrendered a few days later when they felt it wasn’t working out as they had expected. It was surprising, considering what a sweet and easy dog he was. One month later he was adopted again, and we happily watched him trot away with another family, once again, only to return two months later when that family had to move. It’s impossible to explain how disheartening this was. How did two great families not work out in such a short period of time?

Once again, for the third time, Gino was up for adoption. A young couple with their son wanted a family dog. Of course, we knew Gino was just the right fit for a young family. They fell in love with Gino, he with them, and it seemed like the two false starts to a forever life were meant to be. This was surely the family that Gino was meant to be with all along!

Four years passed by and thousands of animals passed through our doors. We went about matching cats, dogs and small animals with families year after year. To my surprise on a typical February day, Gino walked back through our doors. His family had gone through a move, and a divorce, and were stuck trying to find housing they could afford with a 70 pound dog landlords wouldn’t approve. The choice had to be made to avoid homelessness. With a heavy heart, Gino was surrendered for adoption again.

I felt like I had failed him. In my decade long career at the Marathon Campus I cannot recall a single other time a dog had been adopted and returned so many times. He was older now, but had the same light and sweet demeanor I had remembered from so many years ago. My heart broke, and rattled with guilt, I swore to him that day that none of this was his fault, and that just like every other shelter animal that is adopted, he too had a true forever family out there.

Also in 2018, Billy had adopted a sweet older dog named Miley from our Marathon Campus. Through the years Miley quickly became his best friend, and the two were inseparable. Miley accompanied him to his Pickleball games and the beach, the two took daily walks and bike rides together and spent their times at home cuddled up on the couch watching television or listening to music. Miley was his heart dog, his whole world. Tragically, Miley passed away unexpectedly in her sleep the week that Gino was returned to us.

Heartbroken, Billy couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t eat. He was slipping into depression, and lonely. Every person grieves the loss of a pet differently, but for Billy the loss was nearly too great to bear. He knew he needed another companion. They say grief is love that has nowhere to go, and he needed to pour his love into something tangible. Another dog.

To say it was love at first sight is an understatement. Billy met Gino and knew he was the one his heart needed. I knew that nothing could separate the two, and that my promise to Gino would be fulfilled. For the fourth time, Gino was adopted and I had the honor of saying goodbye to Gino forever.

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