Every single day at Austin Pets Alive!, we encounter heart-tugging stories. In the shelter industry, you are not only surrounded by animals depending on you to live and ultimately find everlasting love, but you are surrounded by passionate and compassionate people; and while this fuels your love for what you do, it can also force you to put your emotions aside in order to get the job done and save lives. Sometimes, though, you come across a story that breaks down this wall and reminds you of why you’re here: to save the most vulnerable of lives. Told best by an amazing APA! foster turned adopter, please enjoy the story of Charlie Brown, and how love can be the greatest gift of all.
I think most of y’all know the story of Regan (APA! Dog Foster Assistant Manager) seeing a very freaked out potential foster and somehow talking her into Charlie Brown, a senior boy with, let’s just say, “issues.” That day I was so nervous, but she knew (because y’all are so darn good at what you do!) even before I did that I could do it, and that Charlie and I would be a good fit. It took me a while to finally know what everyone else who saw us together did, that he was mine. After seven months of fostering Charlie, I saw it too and adopted him.
That fateful day at APA! was 298 days ago. From day one I promised him I would be there all the days, months, or years he needed me. Turns out he needed me just those 298 days. I was there holding him and comforting him until the very end. Charlie came to me a rescue and everyone always gave me credit for rescuing him. I quickly told them you guys, and the amazing work APA! does, deserve the credit. You saw a senior dog with health and behavioral issues and knew he had love to give for a little while longer.
Thanks to you, Charlie Brown had 298 days where he didn’t have to worry about anything. Over those 298 days he probably had 298 lipstick stained kiss marks on the top of his head, 1,000 plus walks he loved so much, 298 days of following me to every room in our home, 298 days of lying at my feet, 298 days of constant belly rubs and weekends at the park, 100 plus days of his favorite car rides, 298 days in a warm comfy bed, all the treats and toys he wanted, and most importantly love. For 298 days of my life he gave me nothing but his love.
Dogs die, we know this. But more importantly, they LIVE! They live brave and beautiful lives. Protecting us, loving us, and making our lives a little brighter. Charlie had such simple needs, just love. Charlie was a good boy who loved me and I loved him. My heart is broken in 1,000 pieces, but it’s stronger, because Charlie gave me more love in these 298 days than I can measure, making it all worth it. What y’all did for me that day, placing Charlie with me, was so amazing and I can’t thank you enough. Keep doing the great work you do so dogs like Charlie Brown can recieve their 298 plus days of giving love and being loved.
I often told Charlie that he opened my heart in new ways and that after him there would be more animals. I’m not sure when I’ll be ready to foster again, but when I do, I already look forward to helping someone find their own Charlie Brown and honoring his memory.
While Veronica credits Charlie’s 298 days of love to us, we must hand over the credit to her. We can only bring these beautiful stories to life because of people like her. Our fosters and adopters are saving lives in a beautifully unique and impactful way, and we cannot claim that credit.
Veronica’s beautiful testimony reminds us why we do the work that we do. While there are many of these whys, it all comes down to one overarching theme: love. The vulnerable pets we work with deserve to live to feel love in their lives and give their love to someone else. Our work will never be done until all pets, like Charlie Brown, get that chance. If you’d like to help us continue finding love for pets like Charlie Brown, please give today.