Hi! I’m Georgia and my second life began with a confiscation in a neglect case somewhere around Moreno Valley, California.
I was taken from the deplorable conditions I had been living in along with a younger dog (the humans think he may have been my brother or possibly even my son), and we were both transported to the Moreno Valley Animal Shelter. It’s the Pits Dog Rescue emailed Lionel’s Legacy Senior Rescue that they were taking the younger pittie, in the hopes that the senior rescue would be able to take me, the old girl. And that became my name for the time being: Old Girl.
I was severely emaciated, malnourished, and had a large mammary tumor hanging from my belly. I also had terminal breast cancer and the vets advised that I be put down immediately. Lionel’s Legacy ignored the vet and had some wonderful volunteers pick me up and transport me to a San Diego animal hospital where I would be under observation and boarded until medical and temperament testing was done.
Then they set on finding me a special foster who can handle my extraordinary medical needs. My medical condition was serious, and that the time I had left would be brief. Blood, ooze, bandage changes, medications, and countless vet visits were not typically the normal life of a foster parent, and it could be a tough road. This was essentially going to be hospice fostering.
And they had someone definite in mind to care for me — and they knew that this particular foster home, with its gentle, welcoming senior foster siblings and endless amounts of uncompromising love, would be the perfect place for me to live out the rest of my time, whether it would be weeks, or days.
You may asked why rescue a terminally ill dog with possibly just days to live? Lionel’s Legacy’s founder Laura Oliver simply says:
Because my time on Earth hadn’t been great. Because I had given all my love to numerous litters of puppies and to possibly my humans too. Because I would doubtless be overlooked and disregarded at the shelter due to my age and my condition. Because I needed to know what good, kind-hearted people are capable of, and the joys and bonds that can be experienced with loving people.
And because I shouldn’t die alone in the shelter, after a lifetime of neglect and from an illness that might have been preventable with the proper attention and care.
The vets advised to let me go but Laura saw strength in me that the vets weren’t seeing. Even in the condition I was in, I had a will to survive.
My soon-to-be foster mom went to the animal hospital to meet me to see my disposition with other dogs and cats — she has three dog-friendly cats and was concerned how I would be around them. A temperament test was never administered as the hospital assumed that I would be euthanized. That concern dissipated upon seeing me walk into the room for the first time.
I was all bones, walked with a wobble, had a stiff body demeanor indicative of painfulness, and a very large tumor hanging from my belly. I would not look toward her, I did not look at the techs that brought me in the room, I would not focus on anything; I just stared straight ahead as if waiting for the next blow.
The sight of me took her breath away; she had seen photographs of dogs in this condition, but never had she seen one in her life that looked like me. The techs left the room and she was alone with me. After spending time talking to me softly, she tried to gently touch me but I flinched and recoiled. Meanwhile, my tumor was oozing blood and infection all over the floor from an open wound.
She was undaunted. She continued to speak softly, slowly to me as if she had known me already for years. She acted as if we’d been companions all along. She read off the list of names had been suggested on Lionel Legacy’s Facebook page, and no response. I just stared straight ahead until she got to “Georgia.”
“Georgia…,” she sang quietly. I turned my head slightly to cast a glimpse of the foster, and considering her condition, that was a big response… “Georgia it is,” she said. Beautiful, sweet Georgia.
But I was still detached, distant, as if I had already given up and did not want to be reminded. The techs came and lead me away, back to my kennel. “She wasn’t eating,” they said. “She wasn’t engaging. She was dying.”
The vet on duty came into the room in a bit of a huff, chastising my foster mom for her rescue group taking me on. “This dog has DAYS, that’s it,” the vet snapped. “Why not spend your money on a dog that’s going to live longer than a few days… she’s unresponsive to human contact, she will not eat, she’s got terminal breast cancer and should be put out of her misery immediately.”
As is the procedure, the vet called Laura and told her the same things. Laura then asked to speak to my foster mom. “Are you up for this?” she asked. “I’m up for this,” my foster mom answered back. Laura simply replied, “All right then, that’s settled.” And I was going home.
The original point of rescuing me was to basically administer palliative care and provide me with the safe home and the things necessary to live and flourish that I had not been given previously. And, the most important ingredient, the love and caring of a human heart that would be mine until the end of my time here.
My foster mom said that no matter how long I was with her, be it weeks or days, I would be loved and safe and cared for. And I would know this.
Lionel Legacy’s vet met me, and instead of reading the rescue the riot act for taking me in, opted to say, “I see the glass half full: She could be a miracle dog so keep her happy until she’s not, and you’ll know when that time is.” Keeping me comfortable and happy was the goal (I was too frail and emaciated to undergo any kind of treatment or surgery). And should I thrive in my new environment, there might be options for treatment. She prescribed the right combination of medication, suggested ways to get me to start eating, and told my foster mom what signs to look for in the event that I just wanted to let go or was in pain or discomfort.
The DAYS that it had been predicted for me had went by, and more days followed, and weeks passed. I was putting on weight, filling out a bit, eating on my own and had a brightness to my eyes that had not been there before. I had bad days, and mostly good days, but mainly, MANY days, and I showed no signs of slowing thus far. I would not miss my walkies, not even on my bad days, and I was learning by way of socialization that humans can be loving, caring creatures.
I loved to visit people, loved to ride in the car, and bonded with my foster siblings (two large senior dogs — one is Super “Monster” Torrey Blue, a retired therapy dog) in addition to my foster felines. My tail wagged often, and I would run to the door with it wagging, in the hopes of finding visitors, especially children.
I was still contending with the ungainly tumor that hung heavily off my skin and caused my gait to wobble. A constant reminder that I was not well. And it was understood that any day could be my last with my foster mom and siblings. But as long as I was with them, said my foster mom, we were going to make these days the best days of my life.
One of the many remarkable thing about us dogs is our incredible resilience and ability to overcome our past, whatever it may be. My foster mom had seen this happen slowly with me. Whatever I went through, and for however long, it was slowly fading. My rescuers hoped that was being replaced by the very best times and the most enduring love that they have for me. They couldn’t love me more…
My medical conditions, including an enlarged heart, were being monitored by the vet and were scheduled to be re-evaluated shortly. My foster mom, and the hundreds of well-wishers who visit my Facebook page, were praying for a miracle for me: That my health and body were getting strong enough to consider removing the unwieldy tumor and letting me live out my remaining time like a normal dog, comfortable in my body.
My foster mom knew I was a hospice foster, but after having me for a while, she really did begin to believe that I was going to be a miracle.
I was getting so much happier and comfortable so she thought, “We’d have the tumor removed and she’d have a recovery.” Then in the middle of August, a few weeks into my second life, I started going downhill. It was so unexpected, and horribly dreaded; my foster mom didn’t really see it until the morning of August 17th.
I stopped eating basically the day before, although she brought me four cheeseburgers and I ate them, which were a welcome surprise. But she could tell I was probably eating them to please her more than anything else. I wouldn’t take any of my magical ham this morning (she stuffs my meds there), so she ran out and got me roast beef, my absolute favorite thing. I turned my head, then turned back and tried to take the beef into my mouth but had to let it drop. I was letting her know in several ways that my little damaged body was giving out, and that it was time for her to let me go.
She finally laid down on the floor with me, as she often did, and looked into my half-closed eyes and understood what I was regretfully trying to tell her. She told me she would take care of me, she would be with me every moment, and that she loved me so, so, so much.
She then drove me to the vet’s, hoping that I might get better on the way (she was still in denial), and the vet would be able to do something. But I faded so quickly in the car. I just leaned on the back of the seat, staring at her the entire ride. My foster mom looked into my eyes as much as possible and kept telling me she loved her. My gaze was soft and loving, and she kept her hand on me.
And she saw that I was very peaceful. It was time for me to go Home. I was leaving her and I knew I absolutely broke her heart into pieces.
In the end, despite my short time, my foster mom told me that I did win because I continue to educate and affect people. After I crossed the bridge, my Facebook friends climbed to over 1,000 and continue to climb. As each person reads my story, sees my photos and understands better what neglect literally means and does to an animal who depends on us, I win. With each new person who learns of my story and falls in love with the brave, giving pittie, I win. And my foster mom says that those who fell in love with me and were fortunate enough to spend time with me, they won, too.
I overcame odds against me more than once: being taken from neglect, being rescued from the shelter, finding a rescue organization who would care for me, finding a foster who would love me the rest of my days, and living longer than the two days that were predicted for me. And then I found over 1,000 friends to love me.
I will always be in your hearts. My life and death mattered. I’m Georgia the Miracle Pittie and I was loved.
p.s. I know my foster mom misses me so badly. I miss her so badly too.
From Georgia’s foster mom, Dyan: Georgia touched my soul deeply. She left a mark on my heart that I won’t be able to erase. But I’m not the only one. Hundreds of Georgia’s friends on Facebook are feeling the loss of sweet Georgia, none of whom have ever met her. Her story, from the absolute neglect that caused a malignant tumor to spread without treatment, and emaciation and malnourishment, to the happy, beautiful pittie who out-walked her two healthy foster siblings and spread smiles all over the Internet with her daily adventures, there was just something about Georgia that made you fell in love with her. She was a miracle pittie. You just wanted her to win, to get healthy and have a normal doggie life.
As one Facebook friend said on Georgia’s page after she had passed, Georgia was previously destined to be killed in the back of a shelter, and no one would have ever known of her existence. In three week’s time with us, she had more love, snuggles, walkies, treats, chewies, belly rubs, nose kisses, lying-on-the-floor one-on-one time, car rides, adventures, and MORE love than she could have ever had in her prior lifetime. And the love wasn’t all from me, she had, at the time of her passing, over 900 friends who followed her daily and highly antics, sent her wonderful messages, watched her daily health and wished her well constantly. The girl was LOVED.