A story about senior dogs that helped my psyche wounded by the drumbeat of terrible news

It’s a question that many of we non-rich people have asked ourselves before: What would you do if you suddenly came into $1 million?

The first thing I’d do is buy a small house so could have that security for myself.

But the next thing I’d do is plan and open a senior dog sanctuary and spend the rest of my life giving all of them the comfortable, carefree and loved final days all dogs (and humans BTW) deserve.

So this story that just went up on The New Yorker web site really struck a chord with me. What a wonderful gift of journalism, and a beautiful counterpoint to all the terrible news lately:

Greig hadn’t exactly set out to run a hospice for the wretched refuse of the canine universe. What propelled him was the unexpected loss, through vehicular accident, in 2012, of his dog Wolfgang, with whom he was extremely close. He was undone by his grief and decided he had to do something to make Wolfgang’s loss feel purposeful. “I went to a shelter and said, ‘Give me the oldest dog you have,’ ” Greig said.

It turned out to be a twelve-year-old Chihuahua with four bad knees and a heart murmur, a dead-ender if there ever was one. Greig was buoyed by the thought that the Chihuahua, whom he named Eeyore, got to live because Wolfgang had died. “The feeling that came over me—all my pain was lifted, my burden was lifted,” he said. “Eeyore was so happy. He was a great little dog.”

After the success with Eeyore, Greig took stock of his house (large) and decided that he was able to take on another senior. “Phyllis was one of the most horrific-looking dogs I’d ever seen. She was blind and had lost all her hair and had sores on her snout. No way was she getting adopted.” He adopted her. He told me that what he does isn’t just charity: senior dogs, by his accounting, are mature, easygoing, self-assured, and make wonderful companions. Greig reckons that dogs, like (most) people, become the best versions of themselves as they grow old.

Since Eeyore, he estimates he has taken in nineteen seniors. He tries to cap his dog total at any one time at nine, although, as he acknowledged, a bit sheepishly, his current number is ten.

But there is constant turnover, as one might find in any golden-age community. I wondered whether adopting dogs so close to their likely expiration dates meant being in a constant state of mourning. He started to answer, but his voice was drowned out by Melvin, who was demanding some attention. Melvin is nineteen and blind, but still vociferous. “I’ve turned into his butler,” Greig said with a sigh. “He’s letting me know he needs to go out, or eat, or drink, or he’s cold.”

But back to the topic of his regular goodbyes. “The joy I get out of it far outweighs the pain,” he said. “It’s hard knowing that it’s a short time, but that’s what the purpose is. I remind myself that it’s not about me; it’s about what I’m doing for them. It’s about giving them a good life. The first thing you do is grieve, but then there is that sense of satisfaction. It makes me happy, not sad.”

This story (by writer Susan Orlean) made my heart sing.

You can read the rest here.

An amazing photo from an amazing story.

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