There have been many dogs pass through the doors of California GSP Rescue. However, there are some dogs that stick out more than others. Hope was one of those dogs. In August of 2011, we were notified about a “GSP” at a local high kill shelter. When I arrived at the shelter the animal control officer directed me to a kennel with two dogs that came in together as strays. In the kennel sat an adult dog with what was obvious her offspring that looked to be more a purebred Chocolate Labrador than a GSP Mix. Knowing that placing GSP Mixes can be a challenge and placing another breed mix even more difficult, I struggled with what to do. There was no way to take one and leave the other. Uncertain how to proceed, I called Jan Flaherty, California GSP Rescue’s founder. She didn’t hesitate to offer advice or mince words about the dog sitting in the shelter. “She’s obviously a GSP, get that dog!” Fortunately, while on the phone with Jan, another rescue solved the dilemma with what to do with the other sharing the kennel and spoke for the dog that appeared to be the adult dogs offspring. The memory of that day lives with me today, however, the memory pales to those memories that were to come after the dog we named Hope, was adopted by one or our very own volunteers, Teri. There is no doubt that Teri gave Hope seven years that few, if any, could have given her. However, Hope came to Teri shortly after suddenly losing her late husband Dan, and filled a void no other dog or, at the time, person could. We often value the number of years rather than the quality of the years. Who would think that in seven years an older dog in a shelter could make such a difference in someone’s life like Hope did… Jan Flaherty, in her sage wisdom and ~Greg
Sadly, Hope passed away recently, at the age of 15.
Hope came to the CA GSP Rescue a little more than seven years ago at an estimated 8 years old. She was clearly bred again and again, then dumped at the shelter with an adult pup. Hers was one of those “miraculous” saves. As her luck continued when she immediately found a wonderful foster mom in our volunteer Teri. Here she found love, enjoyed hikes and loved her time at the beach. As she got the exercise she needed, she started to look like a fit and trim – and much younger – dog! Teri’s friends and fellow rescue volunteers loved seeing how wonderful Hope looked! Hope came to Teri during a difficult time in her life and, quite literally, gave her new hope. Teri took her in as a foster dog, and soon discovered she was meant to stay. Hope wasn’t just her name, it was what she represented to her dog-mom, Teri.
Fast-forward a little bit, and Teri married John and his two rescued GSP’s – slightly akin to the Brady Bunch, where each partner brought their two dogs. This busy household enjoyed life, enjoyed the beach, and faced their share of difficulties as they lost Hope’s three dog-brothers, Kelsey, Forrest and Dude. Through it all, Hope was their strength, and their hope.
As the years went on, Teri and John’s friends enjoyed following Hope’s adventures on Facebook. We were excited about the book she was featured in, “Unconditional; Older Dogs, Deeper Love” (a lovely book by Jane Sobel Klonsky). We especially enjoyed watching Hope’s enthusiasm for running and playing on the beach, and swimming and playing in the pool in their new home! She took herself for a swim many times a day and discovered a love of stealing pool toys! She swam by herself and swam with anyone who would join her. In the water she so loved, she looked like a pup again. Clearly neglected in her prior life, she transformed into the swan she was meant to be under Teri’s care.
Kelsey, Forrest, Dude and Hope have all crossed the bridge since Teri and I have been married. Each time, Teri has worked harder to find a way to improve the quality of the food, the supplements and the care given to the pack. To say that she is the most loving, caring, compassionate and driven person I have ever met is a vast understatement, but my vocabulary doesn’t contain the appropriate words. If it was humanly possible for Hope to have lived forever, Teri would have figured it out. Teri has slept downstairs with Hope every night since Hope’s diagnosis, so she wouldn’t have to climb the stairs. Teri’s face was what Hope saw when she fell asleep each night and what she saw when she woke up each morning. Teri’s face is the last image she ever beheld, and seeing Teri’s face, though filled with sadness and grief, let Hope know that she was safe“. ~ written by John, Teri’s husband
“My beautiful Hope. My girl with the heart shaped face, my once in a lifetime dog took her last swim at 7:45 a.m., on the morning of September 2, 2018. We shared some very precious final moments, she putting her paw over my arm like always, while I whispered in her ear all the many reasons she was so special to me, and how much I love her, thanking her for loving me and coming into my life. Then at 11:03 a.m. my beloved Hope peacefully passed away in my arms. Our home is profoundly missing our matriarch, and our lives will never be the same without her.
When Hope got sick, she still swam every single day for the entire week after her diagnosis. Though our hearts were breaking knowing our time together was short, Hope taught us through it all, to “Just Keep Swimming”.
Hope was my best friend, my heart dog, and came to me 7 years ago this month shortly after tragedy struck my life, and gave me Hope in more ways than I had ever imagined. I am forever grateful to the California GSP Rescue for not turning away an older GSP/Chocolate Lab Mix in a high kill shelter, knowing she would be difficult to place, but taking a chance that there just might be the perfect home for her out there. The love I have for Hope is as immeasurable as the heartache I feel of her no longer being by my side, but I know she is always with me. She loved to swim and make people smile. She lived up to her name and shared hope and joy not only in my life, but in every life she touched. How did I get so lucky?
They say that once in a while a dog enters your life and changes everything. That was Hope. I have always believed that the immense joy you get from the love of a senior dog is impossible to describe. That it must be experienced.
Sweet dreams my beautiful Hope, until we meet again. I love you forever and always, and I will never stop missing you. When I feel the breeze across my face, when I wake up to a beautiful sunrise and witness a breathtaking sunset, I know you are there with me. The impact you made in my life has forever changed who I am. Thank you so much for loving me”.
The power of love is an amazing thing… There was a dragonfly flying over the pool when I was swimming the day after Hope passed away. I believe in signs, and I believe that was my girl letting me know that she is okay”.
Our hearts go out to our fellow volunteers and friends, Teri and John, in their loss of precious Hope – she will be missed, but never forgotten.