Ralphie’s Six Short Weeks

Ralphie never gave much thought to his future, there was no reason to. For ten beautiful years, he had a roof over his head, two square meals a day, all the toys he could possibly want, a fenced yard to play in and a Mom who absolutely adored him.  In fact, his Mom had even taken steps to ensure that should anything ever happen to her, Ralphie must be cared for for the rest of his natural life.

We don’t know what led her to do that, but it came into play when she fell ill and was moved to a hospice facility.  No one in her family was prepared to take Ralphie in so instead they boarded him at a local vet’s office.  The weeks ticked by and during that time, the vet discovered that Ralphie had terminal lymphoma.  Not only had this sweet pup lost everything, but his final days would now be spent in a kennel wondering what happened to his Mom and the life he’d known.  Ralphie’s Mom ultimately lost her own battle on Mother’s Day and perhaps the sad irony of that played a small part in the vet’s office putting out an urgent call for help.  Was there anyone out there that could take Ralphie in and make his final weeks loving and comfortable ones?

One angel in Baltimore answered that call.  Her name is Marie Hallock-Sweet and on Friday, May 19, she made plans to drive to New York the next day and bring Ralphie “home.”  We received the message via Facebook, “Good Morning, I’m on my way to Long Island to pick up a hospice. Difference is, I’m taking this one as mine. He is in the end stage of Lymphoma, and his owner died on Sunday. The terms of the will said the family must keep him alive so they put him in boarding at a Vet’s office and the Vet put out the call. I swear, people baffle me. Who would put a sweet, ailing 10- year old in a kennel to live out the remainder of his days?”

The fact that Marie Hallock-Sweet would be the one to step up didn’t surprise us, but we couldn’t help but wonder – how much hurt could one heart could take?  Less than a month before, Marie had fostered another hospice pup named Arthur and we watched tearfully from afar as he got to experience heaven during his last days on earth.   Our own hearts were shattered when Arthur finally crossed the Rainbow Bridge so how could Marie deal with another loss, let alone so soon?

We got the answer fairly quickly.

Since arriving in Baltimore, Ralphie has bonded with his pit bull sister, Harley Quinn, and spent each day experiencing one new thing on his bucket list.  A visit to the waterfront and an ice cream cone.  Car rides in the country and long naps on his own cushy bed. Puppacino’s at Starbucks and non-stop belly rubs.  Head bonks with his new kitty brother and VIP treatment at Chadwell Animal Hospital.

Once again, we watch from afar as this ailing senior learns that some humans have a greater capacity for love and hurt than others.  We’ll never know if he secretly misses his real Mom, but we do know that he couldn’t have found a better place to spend his final days.   It still begs the question, why?  Why put yourself through a situation that can only end in pain?  For Marie, it was a simple answer.  “I only had six days with Arthur, this was my chance for a do over.”

We’re willing to bet Ralphie’s Mom is looking down from heaven and smiling right now.