If Tears Could Build a Stairway, and Memories a Lane, I'd Walk Right Up to Heaven and Bring You Home Again

On January 11, 2004, we lost to old age and sickness our beloved Mama Sheila, a 15-year, 4-month-old poodle who came to the United States with us from my native Germany. She was our loyal companion, faithful friend and inspiration for the founding of Second Chance & Happy Tails.

Sheila was born on September 11, 1988. Her veterinarian soon discovered that she suffered from a heart murmur. Despite being on heart medication for the past 2 years, her heart was pure gold, always loving, gentle and giving. Sheila always welcomed, took care of and looked over the little dogs that came into our care: those that were sick, injured or just lonely and scared.

Once, when Sheila was a young dog, someone gave her poisoned bologna and we almost lost her. But it wasn't her time to cross the Rainbow Bridge; God had a plan for her. Because of her, we fell in love with little dogs and was inspired to do everything we could to ease the pain, loneliness or neglect of those animals who found themselves all alone in the world. Whether they were abandoned, sick, abused or given up with regret due to illness or death of their owner, we always made--and will always make-- room for them. Our hearts especially go out to those little dogs who are old or those with special medical needs.

We want to honor Sheila's memory and all the wonderful things she brought to our lives and to the lives of the many dogs that came into our home by setting up a "Mama Sheila Memorial Fund." This fund will be used specifically for our "retirement wing, because just like like us humans, these older residents often have medical problems such as diabetes, heart disease, epilepsy or other chronic conditions.

Take Tiffany, a sweet little Chihuahua who died from cancer. She was only 8-years-old, but because she was never spayed, she was susceptible to the type of tumors that killed her. Tiffany loved Gregory and was his constant shadow. He fed her and she slept by his side. After he went off to work, she headed back to bed, getting up only to drink water. But when the clock struck 4:30, she knew it was time for Daddy to come home. She waited for him at the door, then stuck by his side until it's was time to turn in for the night.

Selena is another female Chihuahua with special needs. She was a young pup when brought to Precious Friends puppy rescue in 2001, but because it was discovered that she suffered from diabetes, she couldn't be placed. Selena is a smart, happy little dog despite her condition, and she enjoys life to the fullest. We believe she deserves to live.

Then there's Damian, a 10-year-old Schnauzer who requires daily insulin for his diabetes. Damien's former owner abandoned him and his companion and playmate, Regan, 9, at a veterinary clinic. He's had several diabetic emergencies, but has a strong will to live. Because of their age and Damien's condition, it's highly doubtful someone will want to adopt them, especially since they must stay together. Regan simply wilts when she's away from Damien.

Gregory and I enjoy caring for the many other special-needs dogs we care for. We hope they all will have many happy years with us. But their care is costly. Most of our senior dogs need special food, medicine and frequent veterinary care. Some have no teeth and many have skin conditions that need specially medicated shampoo.

We appreciate so much your past support of our mission and hope that if you are able, you will continue to remember us and the many older dogs who will live their remaining time on earth in our home. We believe that as long as a dog has quality of life, he deserves to have a happy, safe and loving environment for the time God has allotted him. Too many dogs like Selena, Tiffany, Damien and Regan end up lonely and abandoned at county pounds where they are put to death, alone and scared, simply because the humans they have been so devoted to have abandoned them.

No dog can ever replace our Sheila, but we want to make sure she lives on through Second Chance & Happy Tails and remains our inspiration, support and comfort. We-- and Sheila-- couldn't do it without caring animal lovers like you.

Gregory and Inge Irby
Founders, Second Chance & Happy Tails

Rescues at the Rainbow Bridge


Unlike most days at Rainbow Bridge, this day dawned cold and gray, damp as a swamp and as dismal as could be imagined. All the recent arrivals were confused and concerned. They had no idea what to think for they had never experienced a day like this before. But the animals that had spent some time waiting for their beloved people knew exactly what was happening and began to gather at the pathway leading to the Bridge to watch. They knew this was something special. It wasn't too long before an elderly animal came into view; head hung heavy and low with tail dragging along the ground. The other animals on the pathway, the ones who had been at Rainbow Bridge for a while knew the story of this sad creature immediately. They had seen it happen far too many times.

Although it was obvious the animal's heart was leaden and he was totally overcome with emotional pain and hurt, there was no sign of injury or any illness. Unlike the pets waiting at the Bridge, this dog had not been restored to his prime. He was full of neither health nor vigor. He approached slowly and painfully, watching all the pets that were by now watching him. He knew he was out of place here. This was no resting place for him. He felt instinctively that the sooner he could cross over, the happier he would be. But alas, as he came closer to the Bridge, his way was barred by the appearance of an Angel who spoke softly to the old dog and apologized sorrowfully, telling him that he would not be able to pass. Only those animals that were with their special people could pass over the Rainbow Bridge. And he had no special beloved people...not here at the Bridge or on Earth below.

With no place else to turn, the poor elderly dog looked toward the fields before the Bridge. There, in a separate area nearby, he spotted a group of other sad-eyed animals like himself...elderly and infirm. Unlike the pets waiting for their special people, these animals weren't playing, but simply lying on the green grass, forlornly and miserably staring out at the pathway leading to the Bridge. The recent arrival knew he had no choice but to join them. And so, he took his place among them, just watching the pathway and waiting.

One of the newest arrivals at the Bridge, who was waiting for his special people, could not understand what he had just witnessed and asked one of the pets who had been there for some time to explain it to him.
"That poor dog was a rescue, sent to the pound when his owner grew tired of him. They way you see him now, with graying fur and sad, cloudy eyes, was exactly the way he was when he was put into the kennels. He never, ever made it out and passed on only with the love and comfort that the kennel workers could give him as he left his miserable and unloved existence on Earth for good. Because he had no family or special person to give his love, he has nobody to escort him across the Bridge."

The first animal thought about this for a minute and then asked, "So what will happen now?"
As he was about to receive his answer, the clouds suddenly parted and the all-invasive gloom lifted. Coming toward the Bridge could be seen a single figure...a person who, on Earth, had seemed quite ordinary...a person who, just like the elderly dog, had just left Earth forever. This figure turned toward a group of the sad animals and extended outstretched palms. The sweetest sounds they had ever heard echoed gently above them and all were bathed in a pure and golden light. Instantly, each was young and healthy again, just as they had been in the prime of life.

From within the gathering of pets waiting for their special people, a group of animals emerged and moved toward the pathway. As they came close to the passing figure, each bowed low and each received a tender pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears. Their eyes grew even brighter as the figure softly murmured each name. Then, the newly-restored pets fell into line behind the figure and quietly followed this person to the Bridge, where they all crossed together.

The recent arrival, who had been watching, was amazed. "What happened?"
"That was a rescuer," came the answer. "That person spent a lifetime trying to help pets of all kinds. The ones you saw bowing in respect were those who found new homes because of such unselfish work. They will cross when their families arrive. Those you saw restored were ones who never found homes. When a rescuer arrives, they are permitted to perform one, final act of rescue. They are allowed to escort those pets that couldn't place on Earth across the Rainbow Bridge. You see, all animals are special to them... just as they are special to all animals."  "I think I like rescuers," said the recent arrival.

"So does God," was the reply.

--Author Unknown-

Bear Cuthbertson originally named Sadie was adopted by Ron and Jill Cuthbertson in 2006 from Second Chance and Happy Tails rescue. Sadly she went to the Rainbow Bridge October 28, 2011. She is dearly loved and missed by her family and all who knew her.

Donate a Bed
Our dogs love to sleep on Kuranda Dog beds, but we don't have enough for everyone. If you would like to donate a bed at a special wholesale price for a another dog to sleep in comfort, please donate a Kuranda dog bed.
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