When one dog was dumped at a veterinary clinic with no hope and no one who loved him, some thought the kindest thing to do was euthanize him. However, his clever vet realized just what the dog needed to thrive. But getting it for him would be the most difficult task.
Life had not been kind to Emu the dog. He was found wandering the streets of South Africa in a tragic state. He was severely malnourished and suffering from mange. As a result, a stranger who found him thought the kindest thing for Emu would be euthanasia.
As a result, the stranger took him to a local vet to have him put down. But when the veterinarian set eyes on Emu, he couldn’t end his life. To him, it was clear the old dog still had a lot left to offer. So he hatched a plan to save him.
The vet wanted Emu to attend an Adoption Day event run by an animal rescue organization in Cape Town. Sidewalk Specials has no shelter but saves dogs from abuse and euthanasia using a foster-based approach. This helps the organization keep its costs down and provide rescue dogs with loving environments from the get go.
So before he could attend the adoption event, staff at Sidewalk Specials placed Emu in foster care. This allowed time for the dog to regain his health. And the Sidewalk Specials foster carer teamed up with a local veterinary clinic to heal Emu.
Getting Emu well again was going to be an uphill battle. But, soon, the dog’s tired little body began to heal. And once he realized he was safe, his nerves melted away. Finally, he allowed his foster family and his vet to help him.
In spite of everything he’d been through, Emu was shaping up to be a pretty much perfect pet. Thanks to his foster family’s dedication, he was now free to be loving and caring. And soon he was like many dogs that live for human attention.
As the Adoption Day edged closer, his carers wondered if anyone had the love in their heart to take in the old dog. Some worried that Emu would find himself left behind while the other dogs at the event found their forever homes. And they had good reason to be concerned.
Senior dogs can be notoriously difficult to rehome once they arrive in shelters. According to data obtained by the ASPCA, dogs over seven years old account for 12 percent of the shelter population. Of them, just 25 percent can expect to find loving homes. When you compare that to the 60 percent of younger shelter dogs who go on to be adopted, it makes for pretty depressing reading.
In her experience, Sara Kent – the director of shelter outreach for online adoption site Petfinder – has found the statistics to be true. “I would say the seniors are definitely the most difficult to find homes for,” she told the Chicago Tribune in 2014. “We just recently completed a survey of members and asked what is the hardest type of pet to rehome. The largest percentage, 28, said seniors were the hardest.”
Unfortunately, the same is true for cats. And, according to Bunny Hofberg – founder of New York-based animal welfare organization Frankie’s Feline Fun – the reason is simple. When people look at older pets they fear their lives will be all too short.
“I hate to use a cliché,” Hofberg said. “But it’s the glass half-empty versus half-full idea. Instead of looking at the negative side, look at it as how much you can give each other in the time you have together.”
But despite the grim statistics, those who had already fallen in love with Emu were hopeful that he’d get his happy ending. And it turned out that the fates were finally smiling on him. Because when he arrived at the adoption event, there was already someone there waiting for him.
But before the potential adopters took Emu home, it was important for them that he felt comfortable with them. So they spent all day with him so that he could get to know them. And, pretty soon, the dog could tell he was in safe hands.
When the day was done, the family sealed the deal and took Emu home with them. They renamed him Nutzie and introduced him to their other fur-baby, Sahara. Nutzie was thrilled to have a friend, and pretty soon the duo made one bundle of doggy fun.
After two months at his new home, Nutzie looked like a completely different dog. He had a new lease of life and was enjoying every single day. Suddenly, it became glaringly clear that the one thing he had needed to thrive had been clear all along. It was simply love.
Video footage shared by his new family showed the once down and out doggy looking more energetic than ever. In it, he played with his best buddy Sahara. It was clear to see that Nutzie finally felt like he belonged somewhere. And it seemed to be doing wonders for his mind, body and soul.
Since Nutzie’s story was such a success, Sidewalk Specials decided to share a video of his transformation on YouTube. Since the heartwarming footage went live in August 2017, more than 160,000 people have tuned in to watch it. And some of them also left their well-wishes in the comment section below.
And one viewer summed up why more people should consider adopting an older pet, like Nutzie, perfectly. “So many times all people see is that little scruffy, neglected, usually older, afraid object but don’t look into the future of what it can blossom into. Rescuing or letting an older rescue into your life can be one of the most rewarding things you’ve ever experienced,” they said.
“My last rescue girl taught me so many things,” the user continued. “Once you’ve earned the love and trust of a rescued animal it will only increase over time. Exponentially. Rescues aren’t broken. Rescues just need the right human.”