A little dog named Roo taught everyone at Maddie’s Fund a lot. She showed us what happens when courage meets compassion, demonstrated the power of taking chances, and wrote a new chapter in the story of saving lives.
This valiant dog finished her work on earth this month, and the Maddie’s Fund family mourns her loss at the same time we celebrate the profound impact she had on all of us, and on our very concept of lifesaving.
Roo was found at a local shelter as a stray, and we immediately brought her into Maddie’s® Adoption Program. Anyone who saw her at this time would agree that “spunky” was not the word to describe her, and we weren’t quite sure she would make it through the weekend. Most of her hair was gone, she was blind, diabetic, lethargic and had an adrenal tumor.
“She was the first life and death decision I had to make as the Maddie’s Adoption Program Manager,” said Kim Domerofski. “The chances of her surviving even for hours were slim. So I had to make the heartrending decision — do we let her go or do everything we can to give her a chance?”
After consulting with veterinarians including Maddie’s Fund’s Dr. Sheila D’Arpino, the decision was made to give Roo every chance. “We had no idea that this tiny, almost hairless, diabetic, blind, emaciated, dehydrated senior dog was the ultimate fighter!” Domerofski remembered. “Every time she’d seem to be losing her fight, she’d rally back. That was Roo — determined, feisty, and not ready to give up! Over the next few months, she grew healthier and stronger and proved everyone wrong! If you had asked any of us on the day we had to make the life and death decision if we thought there was any chance at all that she’d live almost three more years, we would have certainly said no. I’m so thankful we would have been wrong.”
Roo was fostered by Dr. D’Arpino and ultimately adopted by Maddie’s Fund’s Rory Adams, who cherished and learned from Roo until the day she died.
“Roo was happy in spite of everything because she was unconditionally loved by a very caring person,” said Alison Gibson of Maddie’s Fund. “And that turned into palpable joy for anyone around Roo and her caregiver. If you’re having a bad day, remember this special little pup and the love she was given – you will smile inside and out.”
Domerofski said Roo taught her four lessons:
- Follow your heart. When we had to make the decision about whether or not to euthanize Roo, my heart wanted to give her a chance. My brain struggled because I knew it would cost a lot to try to save her and the odds we were given were so low. But all my heart wanted to do was to give her a chance.
- There’s always hope. Even if there’s a 99.9 percent chance of the worst possible outcome, that still means there’s 0.1 percent chance of a good one!
- Never underestimate the power of love. I truly believe that one of the reasons Roo survived so long was because she was surrounded by love from the moment she came to us. She was deeply loved by our staff and volunteers, her fosters and ultimately her adopter.
- Every moment is worth it. Although we are all heartbroken over losing Roo, I don’t think any of us would give up one moment with her just to avoid the heartbreak at the end. Sharing our lives with Roo was a gift.
Other lessons Roo taught the Maddie’s Fund team:
“Roo was a happy dog although she had so many health issues. One thing she always inspired in me is to be happy.”
“Roo taught me to never give up!”
“We will miss little Roo. She has a special place in all our hearts – she lived the dream with Rory!”
“I’m honored to have known Roo. She was a feisty fireball and one I will never forget.”
None of us will. Thanks for the inspiration, Roo. Many other pets will live and thrive because of the lessons you taught us.