Animals Pets Stories

16-year-old shelter dog with cancer ‘totally reborn’ after foster gives him new lease on life

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All dogs deserve to spend their twilight years in a loving, comfortable home, but sadly that isn’t always the case. Many senior dogs are left waiting in shelters because many people don’t want to take home an older pet.

But thankfully, there are some people willing to open their hearts to old dogs, giving them a chance to live their best life in their final months and years.

Like one man, who fostered a senior dog and gave him a completely new lease on life.

Henry’s story

Zach Skow, the co-founder of California non-profit Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue, often fosters dogs in need of homes. But when he crossed paths with an old dog named Henry, it was the beginning of something special.

Henry had been surrendered by his owners, likely because, as a senior dog about 16 years old, he had a number of health issues. He was deaf and partially blind, and had cancerous growths on his body.

“I remember the expression on his face. You could just feel his pain,” Zach recalled to The Dodo. “He’s a very old super senior, he has some cancerous growths, he was not doing well, I could hear him labor breathing, I could see him shaking.”

Zach decided to take the dog in as an end-of-life foster, initially believing the old dog only had weeks or even days to live.

‘Totally reborn’

However, Henry settled into his new temporary home, and after getting a little love and kindness, he suddenly transformed into a happy, playful dog.

“He got better almost by the hour,” Zach said. “He was just totally reborn.” The dog who once looked on the verge of death was now running and playing around his backyard.

Henry had a surgery to have his cancer removed, and after that continued his “radical turnaround,” filled with more life and joy every day.

“Every day he’d do this little gallop,” Zach told The Dodo. “And then, every day, that gallop would get a little bit more… rambunctious.”

It goes to show the impact that pet foster care can have, especially on a senior dog. Without Zach interfering and giving Henry a home, he probably would’ve been euthanized or died alone in a shelter. Instead, their love truly brought him back to life.

“I think the key variable to Henry’s success is just being part of a family,” Zach said.

Henry’s new forever home

As weeks went by, it became clear that Henry still had plenty of life in him, and Zach realized it was time to find his foster dog a “forever home.”

To his surprise, he soon got a number of adoption requests. One came from Caro Aguilar, who fell in love with Henry.

“I knew he was meant to be in my life just as much as he knew he was meant to be in mine,” Caro told The Mirror.

After seeing Henry in person, she adopted him for good, even though she knew the senior dog wouldn’t have much time left.

“We just want to love him for the rest of his days,” Caro said in an Instagram video as she went to pick him up. “We are just going to enjoy him for as much time as we have with him.”

“He’s going to go out of this world surrounded by love, which is all we can ever ask for,” Zach told The Dodo. “He’s made our lives richer while we’ve had him, and he’s about to make the lives of those who adopt him richer.”

It took some time for Henry to adjust to his new home, but just like he did with Zach, Henry proved he still had plenty of life in him for an old dog.

“I slept downstairs with him for the first two weeks after bringing him home because he was so timid. He was very unfamiliar with things,” Caro recalled to The Mirror.

“After two weeks, he just blossomed. He began going further and further on our walks each day. He was able to do around one mile without stopping – I was in awe of him.”

Henry settled into his forever home, and was greatly loved by his new family. They made sure Henry had lots of fun adventures in his last days, and set up an Instagram account, @seniordoghenry, to share his journey with the world.

‘He brought joy to so many’

Sadly, Henry passed away in June. In a final post, his family shared the news of his passing with his followers. They took comfort in knowing the dog had a loving family by his side in his final hours.

“He passed peacefully with myself, and our family by his side,” the statement reads. “He passed in my arms and in my lap with love, ear rubs, boops, and loads of kisses from me and the girls.”

“I am a mess and my heart is broken. He was a joy in my life that I cannot explain; he brought sunshine on dark days and unconditional love each and every day… I know he brought joy to so many, and to my family you have all brought in light and love like we could not comprehend.”

Henry is over the rainbow bridge now, but his story is still a happy one: thanks to these kind people, Henry got to spend his final months surrounded by love ❤️

Please share this moving story if you love dogs.

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