In which Jill remembers her best friend.
We heard about him before we ever met him. In April 2017, Long Beach Animal Control brought in a senior dog who’d been tied to a sign at the intersection of the 710 and 91 freeways.
When Outta the Cage visited Long Beach shelter to take videos, we sought him out. And there he was, in a quarantine kennel away from public view. He’d had no visitors. He barked to get our attention, as if he’d been stranded on an island awaiting an emergency response team.
“He has a URI,” shelter staffer Sarah Rogers explained, which meant he wasn’t allowed in the play yard. “Poor old dude’s a mess.”
He was a mess indeed. In addition to kennel cough, Frosty was intact, had a perineal hernia, a limp, dental disease, and infections in both ears. (Later we’d learn he also had spondylosis and an enlarged prostate.) Sarah – as compassionate as she is professional – indulged us as we circled back. While she held Frosty on a leash, we videoed him from a safe distance.
Of course, there were no adopters for a senior bully mix with medical issues. So Outta the Cage pulled Frosty on a health waiver and got him to our vet, where he received a dental treatment, deep cleaning in both ears, and The Big Snip. We networked him fiercely. Agave Dogs Rescue found a short-term foster and we sent Frosty up to Portland. When no adopters materialized, Meredith Nolan found a long-term foster. But Frosty turned out to have severe separation anxiety, and the foster had a day job. There were no other takers.
When I picked Frosty up in Medford, Oregon, he looked at me and telepathically asked, “Where have you BEEN?” And that’s how he became our third dog.
Frosty fit in immediately. Our Coonhound Ozzie was vigorous and vocal. Our staffy Otis was unassuming, disappearing for entire afternoons to nap. Frosty, however, was wherever we were. He snoozed on his bed in my office while I worked. A little water and a quick pee break and he’d be back on his bed, snoring, until it was time for a walk.
More than anything Frosty loved to join other dogs on the trails behind our house. Every morning, he’d station himself at our back gate, like a little kid awaiting the school bus. We’d join whatever pack appeared and saunter down the trail.
As the months passed, Frosty’s arthritis worsened and our walks got shorter. Acupuncture, CBD oil, golden paste, and underwater treadmill therapy all had their limits, and his mobility declined. We used a Help ‘Em Up harness, and he became adept at communicating what he needed. Which is how we knew when it was time.
On Frosty’s last day, more dogs than usual passed by our house. When he noticed his friends Sticky, Fried, and Rizzo approaching, he stood up a final time, mustering the strength to greet them. As his friends departed, Frosty walked slowly back into our yard, easing himself down into the soft grass. That’s where we let him go.
We can only guess at Frosty’s past, but I’d bet he spent the majority of his life waiting. Waiting for food. Waiting for someone to love him. Waiting – tied to a sign on the freeway – for someone to gather him up and take him to safety. I like to think when Frosty crossed the Rainbow Bridge, that Portia and Emily and Georgie and Buttercup and his brothers Ozzie and Otis were all waiting for HIM.
Please take care of our boy, guys. He’s so worth the wait.