Senior Pup Amigo Finds His Best Friend in an ASPCA Volunteer
“My first impression of Amigo was that he was LOUD, demanding and stubborn, but behind all the noise was a spunky, affectionate, quirky old dog who needed a soft place to land,” says Carrie B., an ASPCA volunteer responder.
Carrie began deploying with the ASPCA as a volunteer responder in January 2017, often deploying from her home in Tennessee to the ASPCA Cruelty Recovery Center (CRC) in Columbus, Ohio, to help with daily care.
“I had fostered dogs for many years and was looking to expand my skills and knowledge base so that I could be a better foster parent,” explains Carrie. “Once I began deploying, I was instantly addicted to helping with the challenges of sheltering animals from such a variety of unfortunate circumstances.”
Since beginning her journey in 2017, Carrie has deployed at least 12 times per year, primarily to the CRC, but has also been to Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina and Texas.
Earlier this year, Carrie was at the CRC when she met Amigo, an 11-year-old pup who had recently come from an overcrowded shelter in Florida that needed help caring for a dog like Amigo.
“I was deploying regularly to the CRC, so I had my eye on him for a couple of months as he was being rehabilitated,” Carrie remembers. “Because of his quirks and his age, I knew that Amigo would be a challenging dog to find placement for and I knew that I could provide him with a stable, loving, quiet home to spend his Golden Years. Besides, I loved all of his idiosyncrasies!”
Though Carrie hadn’t planned on adopting a dog, she couldn’t help but fall in love with Amigo.
Amigo’s Path to Healing
When Amigo first arrived at the CRC last May, he was unfortunately suffering from quite a few medical conditions.
“He was found to have a profound left-sided head tilt due to a severe ear infection,” explains Dr. Maggie Joel, a CRC veterinarian. “This infection caused a sudden rupturing of the left ear drum which is extremely uncomfortable and can frequently cause dogs to develop a head tilt and occasionally other neurological issues. He was uncomfortable on examination of his ears and needed to be sedated for a full ear exam.”
Amigo was also found to have pain in his hips likely due to arthritis, cataracts in both eyes, a mass on his belly and moderate dental disease. Additionally, due to his ruptured ear drum and cataracts, Amigo was both hearing and visually impaired.
On intake, Amigo was started on antibiotics and pain medications to treat his ear infection and received pain management and joint supplements for his arthritis in his hips, which included daily supplements and medications and monthly injections. He was then scheduled for a dental and mass removal which was found to be a benign fatty tumor that is common in older dogs.
Once Amigo had recovered from these procedures, he was sent to an ophthalmologist for an evaluation of his cataracts where he was prescribed daily eye drops.
Later, it was noticed that Amigo was drinking and urinating more often which led to his diagnosis of hyperthyroidism, another issue commonly seen in older animals, and was started on a long-term treatment with oral medications.
During all his exams Amigo was noted as a sweet pup, but he certainly gave the medical team a run for their money as they worked to make him comfortable and happy.
“He was a typical ‘old man’ as we called him, who enjoyed being around people, getting pets and taking long naps in the medical office,” explains Dr. Joel. “However, for handling and eye drops, he made us get creative! For example, when applying eye drops, we would put his favorite snacks onto a frisbee and tilt his head up while he was eating, then drop the drops from high in the sky into his eye so he didn’t even notice. He was a regular in medical because of his daily treatments, and quickly became a favorite amongst our team!”
After months of treatment, Amigo was in much better shape. His ear infections were cleared, he was much more comfortable getting around with the joint pain management and was visibly in less pain after his dental procedure.
“His head tilt still remained, but I think it gave him so much character!” Dr. Joel tells us.
Finding a Soft Place to Land
Having watched him through his entire medical journey, then seeing him placed up for adoption and receive no inquiries, Carrie wasn’t letting sweet Amigo spend one more day in the shelter. She began fostering him with the goal of adoption on August 31, 2022, and the pair took a road trip from Ohio all the way home to Tennessee. Carrie officially adopted Amigo on November 1, 2022.
Once in Tennessee, it took Amigo some time to adjust to his new life.
“The first six months were challenging, to say the least,” explains Carrie. “Amigo wears his heart on his sleeve and any change in emotion or circumstance would lead to a barrage of barking and running around the house seeking solace or comfort. He had no idea how to play or interact with my dog, Harlan, which usually led to overstimulation, barking and mounting behaviors. He was also so used to the shelter schedule that if he wasn't fed at 8:30 AM or 3:00 PM he would follow us around the house barking. All these things have diminished with time and consistency in his days and the realization that we will be there for him till the bitter end.”
Not only has Amigo settled into his new home, but after months of consistent medication, his head tilt has disappeared!
“He sprints around the house like a track star, and he navigates his surroundings just fine,” says Carrie. “Taking his medications are the highlight of his day because it involves extra tasty treats!”
Amigo is living the senior pup dream, going for drives with the windows down and the wind in his fur. He also takes walks in the woods and off-leash walks.
“Even though he figured out that if he takes a shortcut he gets his after-walk treats sooner,” Carrie adds. “Amigo and Harlan have also developed their own unique playstyle which involves a couple of play-bows and Amigo running full speed and crashing into Harlan a couple of times and then taking a nap. But most of all, Amigo loves lounging around the house, listening to NPR and waiting for his next meal.”
Find Your Amigo
Carrie has always had an affinity for senior dogs and encourages everyone to open their hearts to an animal with a few extra birthday candles!
“Don’t underestimate the joy and satisfaction that a senior dog can bring into your life. Senior dogs are some of the most resilient, affectionate and well-mannered dogs you will ever meet,” she says.
Not a day goes by that her golden aged dog makes her laugh out loud.
“Amigo has taught us patience and compassion and that if you really want something, you should never take no for an answer!”
Ready to find your Amigo? Check out our adoptable animals across the country, consider looking at Animal Care Centers of NYC if you’re in the tri-state area, or find your new best friend at your local shelter!
The ASPCA National Field Response team is currently in urgent need of volunteer responders like Carrie. Sign up today to help!