A San Francisco man who had been in the last stages of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), a deadly disease that affects the central nervous system, brain and spinal cord, had been given only six-months left to live. It had been John Weston’s neighbor who suggested he adopt a senior dog to bring him comfort.
According to the Today Show, Weston’s neighbor and the founder of Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, Sherri Franklin, introduced John to PawPaw – a rescued wolfhound mix. And the magical qualities of the special bond that quickly formed between PawPaw and John may very well have been the reason John lived for three and a half years more.
From the day the two met, they slept next to each other; the two were inseparable. John worried what would happen to PawPaw after he died, so he made Sherri promise to help find the dog a new family. He wanted to meet the dog’s new family, and Sherri agreed PawPaw would stay with John until he passed.
“I’m looking for a home that will love him as much as I did … and do. And he’ll love back, because that’s just his nature.”John Weston
Bernie Knobbe and Tim Belavich had already adopted three other senior dogs from Muttville and happened to be in San Francisco for work from their home in Los Angeles. The men met PawPaw and as they played with the dog, Weston, who had been on oxygen, put his arm on Bernie’s arm reassuring him that he was pleased with the choice where PawPaw would live.
Just three days later, Weston died, and it was as if he hung on to life until he was sure PawPaw would live a charmed and safe life.
Five weeks later, PawPaw was diagnosed with megaesophagus, a disorder in which the esophagus dilates and loses its ability to move food into the stomach. The now 16-year-old dog sits in his high chair to eat dinner. Because the muscles in his esophagus don’t work properly, the special chair allows gravity to help food reach his stomach. But like a baby, he needs to burp before he can get down.
And even though life is more complicated. it seems as if PawPaw has spent most of his life caring for others. Before he came to Weston, the friendly pooch spent ten years assisting an older woman with hearing loss, and his job was to alert her to the doorbell, the phone ringing and other noises. After the woman’s death is when PawPaw arrived at Muttville.
PawPaw is quite the ambassador for senior dogs. There are so many seniors languishing in shelters across the country. Maybe they require more time, and maybe they require more work, but we are all sure they are worth the extra time and energy.
Muttville is celebrating 13 years and 9,000 senior dogs saved!
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