Lifestyle

The Mom Stop: Finding a new home for Eddie

Lydia Seabol Avant More Content Now
Posted: Apr. 23, 2019 8:55 am

In the mid-1970s, when my parents were still newlyweds, my dad brought home a scraggly, dirty “cockapoo” mix as a joke to my mother, thinking the stray dog was so ugly there would be no way she’d want to keep him.

He was wrong.

My mother, who had been begging for a dog, quickly took the pup into her arms, gave him a bath and for the next 17 years, Charlie was our family dog.

A few years after my parents adopted Charlie, a chihuahua/terrier mix who roamed their Loma Linda, California, neighborhood started spending more time at my parents’ house, whenever he wasn’t running with the ponies that the neighborhood kids rode in the streets after school. At one point, the dog showed up sick on their doorstep. My parents took him to the vet, nursed the dog back to health, and eventually, the dog became theirs. They named him Happy. While Charlie was my mother’s dog, Happy was 100 percent my dad’s.

It’s been 30 years since those dogs were alive, but my dad often spoke about them. When pets like that are apart of your lives, you don’t forget them.

After Happy died, my dad didn’t get another dog until 2010, when he adopted a long-haired Jack Russell named Maverick, who became his constant companion. At that point my dad was divorced, his children grown. He lived a quiet and solitary life where the highlight of his day was walking his dog to the beach. Despite Maverick’s tiny size, he thought he was a mastiff, puffing out his chest and barking at everyone and everything. But he was devoted, the kind of devotion my dad so desperately needed at that point in his life.

And when Maverick died suddenly in 2017, Dad couldn’t quite get over his loss. We knew he needed another dog, quickly. But he didn’t just want any dog, he wanted Maverick. The closest thing he could find was another Jack Russell named Eddie from an Arizona-based rescue group.

The rescue group warned that Eddie had had a hard life. He had been abused and ended up at one point on the euthanasia list at a shelter before he was saved. The dog spent a year and a half living with a foster family before my dad adopted him.

In a way, Dad saw some of himself in Eddie. My dad, who struggled with addiction and alcoholism in early adulthood, hadn’t had an easy start to life. Neither had Eddie. But Dad wanted to give the dog a chance at a better life, much like he had gotten.

But Eddie had issues - which led to his nickname, “Issues Eddie.” He’d wag his tail, excited to go on walks. He’d jump on my Dad’s lap, frequently giving him a lick on the face. But “Issues Eddie” considered Dad’s bed as his territory. If Dad moved too quickly or accidentally bumped Eddie while he was asleep, Dad would get bitten.

But Dad was devoted, buying Eddie squeaky dog toys and fresh turkey from the grocery store. Dad was alone, except for Eddie. And in the end, when my dad died earlier this month, it was Eddie who was there with him.

Last week, I got a call from the animal shelter, who had picked Eddie up the night my dad was found. Due to Eddie’s age and his issues, he was not considered adoptable, the shelter explained. They wanted me to sign off on his euthanasia.

Already in the depths of despair over the loss of my father, I was being asked to end the life of his dog, a dog that wasn’t perfect, but who he loved. It felt like salt to a gaping wound, but I agreed.

Soon after I got off the phone, I decided to look back through old emails to find pictures Dad had sent of Eddie. On one of those emails, something stood out - the email address of the rescue group in Arizona. I emailed them immediately, hoping with all hope that maybe there was a chance that Eddie might live.

The next day, the organization called. I explained my situation, and explained that she might not remember my dad or the dog. But I was wrong.

“Your father and I talked on the phone almost every day for the first year he had Eddie,” the rescue volunteer told me. “He was a wonderful man, and a very good friend.”

I stood on the back deck of my house, phone in hand, tears running down my face as I talked to the woman. One thing I’ve learned through my father’s loss was that although he lived a very solitary life, he had some amazing friends across the country who would do anything for him - including taking his dog.

Within 24 hours of that call, Eddie was sprung from the pound by a rescue volunteer. A day later, he was back at his original foster home in Arizona, the home where he lived before, a home where he will stay for the rest of his little life.

Waiting on him was some turkey, fresh from the grocery store, just the way my dad always fixed it. And I know that is exactly what Dad would have wanted.
Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Reach her at lydia.seabolavant@tuscaloosanews.com.

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