Charlie, a working dog’s story

Charlie is what we call a “Hospice Rescue”. I don’t know much about his first 5 years, just that he spent them with an elderly gentleman in South Florida whose only family was Charlie. His owner was on hospice before he passed which in South Florida is a blessing, it meant that he would go to the no kill shelter Nala’s New Life Rescue. Charlie never made it to a foster home, he came straight to me. I’m the Activities Director at a nursing home in Vero Beach, Florida.

This is when Charlie gets a job. Barbie at Nala’s dropped Charlie off to me at work. He didn’t miss a beat, from that day for the past five years he has spent 40 hours a week bringing joy to those who need it most. Not only has he made a difference in resident lives, but also he brings smiles to family whose on the verge of losing their loved one, he eases the minds of children who come to visit grandparents in a place that is unfamiliar and often scary to them and equally important he calms the minds of staff who become close with their patients only to lose them over and over again. It is my opinion that 5 minutes with Charlie is better than any medicine on the market.

Charlie’s losing weight and peeing A LOT!!! If you know any elderly I’m sure you know how much they like to feed, well, anybody that eats. Needless to say 3 years in Charlie got chunky, in my family this means just more to love. Charlie also came to me a dog that wouldn’t eat dog food. 4 years working and I noticed Charlie was losing weight and drinking a ton of water. So we went to the vet and he was diagnosed with diabetes. Which I didn’t understand, because he only ate meat. Then my vet told me that Mini Dobie’s were prone to diabetes and him being half it was most likely hereditary. Charlie is also half Chihuahua. I worried that diabetes meant the end of Charlie’s working days. I was wrong, his diabetes just meant he had more in common with those who pet and watch him all day long.

Fast forward 6 months, did Charlie just walk into a wall?? I looked in his eyes and instantly knew, the dreaded diabetes caused cataracts. It happened almost overnight so their was nothing I could had done to slow the process. He is almost 100% blind and the vet says within the next week or two all vision will be lost.

Charlie for the first time in 5 years now walks on a leash (when we’re not home) and he still goes to work although for safety reasons he’s confined to a stroller when in the building. I call it his black Cadillac, he sits proudly in it and allows everyone to still love on him. His Cadillac has actually made it easier for the wheelchair bound residents to pet him, no more bending over to give him some attention. The diabetes is starting to take a toll, so he is in partial retirement. Spending 2 out of 5 working days at his Gramma Alice’s house laying with her by the pool or cuddling her on the couch.

I guess the point of my story is although my dog losing his sight broke my heart it hasn’t broke his.

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