Too much for this old heart

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, February 18, 2016



I first met Bernadine at Foothills Humane Society around two months ago. My first thought was that this was some kind of mistake and that she was here because of some sort of mishap. Bernadine is a longhaired miniature Dachshund with a red colored coat.  Cute, loving and housetrained, there is no way should she be here even though she’s 14 years old.

Fast forward a month or so and I learned that Bernadine was adopted by one of the sweetest ladies I know. This dear lady already has four dogs and some cats and I can vouch they want for nothing, be it love, comfort or care. I wish every animal owner had her heart. She would feed her pets before she fed herself, but she was literally overwhelming herself.

When I contacted her she agreed that she was struggling a bit but would not give up Bernadine unless I guaranteed she’d live out her life comfortably.

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There is a remarkable rescue called Forever Dream Senior Dog Sanctuary, run by their president and founder, Verna Wilkins. I had recently been given a heads up on what great work she does by two of my board members who are great rescuers in their own way (Dana Mayer and Randy Grobe).

I called Verna and asked if she could help and was pleased that she was well aware of who I was. Though she herself is overwhelmed as all rescues seem to be nowadays, she readily agreed to help with the Bernadine situation. Soon after I received a call from Bernadine’s adopter and she related how pleased she was with Verna.

“Bernadine went to her instantly and seemed to tell me she was in good hands,” she related.

A few days later I set up an appointment to visit the Forever Dream Senior Dog Sanctuary and then take Verna to lunch. I’ve dealt with many rescues and have just about seen every scenario but I must admit I wasn’t prepared for this visit.

There were 25 senior dogs, mostly small, in their cages and some upstairs with Verna. The first thing we did was let them all out into her yard and they acted like a family pack that knew each other forever. These seniors all were acting like pups again and Bernadine joined in like she’d always been there.

I was so moved by it all I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. The cages were spotless, the yard was clean and cared for and the dogs were all happy and comfortable. When we came back in, most of the dogs returned to their own cage and waited for their treat, which Verna delivered as soon as each cage was secured.

Verna seemed to have a tale for each individual dog and I marveled at the devotion of this amazing lady.

At lunch I presented Verna with a good-sized check, from Lennie’s Fund and she thanked me profusely.

“No,” I said, “thank you. You and what you do are the reason I raise money, and I haven’t any doubt that my donors would approve.”

Thanks for listening.