The expression “It’s a dog’s life” fates back to the 1600’s, and describes a life of misery. A dog like Patches must have been the original inspiration for that idiom; no dog should have to live the life that Patches has lived. Fortunately for him, Carmen Klapper stepped in and with the support of the community and his YouCaring page, she is trying to turn his life around.
Patches first came to the attention of Klapper in 2013, when her group built a kennel for Patches and his friend Inferno. Patches was living in the Judson area of Greenville, in an area that was originally part of an old mill village. Although there are many dogs living in Judson, far too many of them live their lives on the end of a tether, with no vet care or heartworm protection.
Carmen’s Rescue is one of several groups in the upstate area of South Carolina who go into communities like Judson, build fences and kennels for these dogs living in chains, help them receive vet care, and generally try to improve their lives.
The group tries to stay in touch with the families of the dogs they help; they want to make sure that they have made a long term, permanent improvement in the lives of these dogs.
Two weeks ago, Klapper got one of those phone calls that come from time to time that she dreads. Patches wasn’t doing too well. He was coughing badly, and having trouble breathing. He needed help. Even before taking him to the vet to be tested for heartworms, Klapper had a strong feeling that Patches would be heartworm positive; in fact she expected the test to indicate that his heartworms were severe.
Test results confirmed her worst fears, and the words from the vet didn’t help. The vet told her “He can die anytime; tonight, tomorrow, next week, maybe next month. There is not a lot we can do for him. The only thing we can do is make his life remaining time pain free, so he does not have to suffer so much.”
Klapper had hoped his condition could be treated, but clearly what Patches needed at this point was the canine equivalent of hospice. He is dying; nothing can change that. She resolved to make sure that his last days were not representative of that middle age saying “a dog’s life”.
She contacted Patches’ owner, and he signed him over to the rescue so that Patches’ last days would not have to be outdoors in a kennel.
Patches has had good days and bad days since then; there was one frightening emergency trip to the vet where he was having trouble breathing as his chest filled with fluid. There is still a slight hope that if Patches responds well to the medication he’s on that he might be able to have heartworm treatment. But the chances are slim, only around ten percent. Even if he is able to start treatment for his heartworms, it is by no means certain that he could survive that treatment, which can be hard on dogs in much better condition than Patches.
Finding a foster home in Greenville, SC that is willing and able to provide hospice support for Patches has been a challenge; Patches needs to be near the vet for those times when he needs to get veterinary attention quickly. Patches also needs to be an only dog for his last days, which complicates matters even more because so many foster homes who would otherwise step up to help already have several dogs.
Right now Patches is staying at Top Dog, a boarding facility, and he is doing well there, but it’s not the home environment he deserves to have for at least a little while.
Meanwhile, Klapper goes to see Patches every chance she gets, and takes him out into the big play yard. She has learned that Patches dearly loves chicken sandwiches, so no one will be surprised to hear that Patches can pretty much expect a chicken sandwich whenever she comes to visit.
He loves to be walked; he sometimes breaks out in a run, although it’s really not a good idea given his condition. Klapper doesn’t stop him because, as she said “what does he have left?”.
The last few weeks have been a time of “firsts” for Patches. He has slept in a real human bed inside a home. He snagged a spot on the sofa. He has had a chance to see himself in a mirror. He even has a patch in the shape of a heart on his right side, a testament to his kind heart. In fact, Patches continues to steal – and break - the hearts of Klapper and everyone who meets him.
Top Dog is a wonderful boarding facility, but Patches deserve to live out his last days in a home. He needs to be someone’s special dog, spoiled with tender loving care and treats. Like Keena, who Examiner wrote about earlier this week, he probably would love to have some cheese doodles and a cheeseburger too. He needs someone to be there with him these last days, and love him.
He needs a foster home, or even a “furrever” home, for however long he has left. It could be a day, a week, a month – it could be longer, if he is lucky.
Can you find it in your heart to bring Patches home with you, and give him the love he needs before he crosses the Rainbow Bridge? If you can’t, do you have a friend who can? Perhaps someone who has recently lost their only dog might be willing to take Patches into their home and heart to help ease his remaining time. Please do what you can to help make sure Patches lives the rest of his life in a home, instead of a boarding facility.
If you can help donate towards Patches’ veterinary care, Carmen’s Rescue would greatly appreciate that as well. A YouCaring page has been set up to provide updates on his condition, and to accept donations towards his care.
Please change the meaning of “a dog’s life” for Patches. Please make sure Patches, for just the short time he has left, can learn how wonderful it can be to be a much loved, indoor family member.