Pets, Pets, Pets


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Jul 14, 2023

Pets, Pets, Pets

By [email protected] | on June

By [email protected] | on June 01, 2023

Do dogs sense when family members are dying? Read and decide. For three days, Timmy a Lhasa Apso amputee rarely left the side of Nana Irene's hospital bed when his 101-year-old grandma was on home hospice. This bed was higher than the regular mattress in her room where he usually positioned himself on the floor next to her bed so he could watch over her each night.

To all four dogs in the home, this new bed was in their living room, and it made weird sounds similar to the clothes dryer. Furniture, rugs and their dog beds had been moved to make way for this monstrosity on wheels plus that odd oxygen machine beside it. Family visited all the time, but now they were clustered around the bed tending to Nana.

Yes, dogs do sense upheaval in their normal routine. But, to Timmy, these changes were more than that. Certain dogs are more in tune with their people, almost a pack mentality. Some scientists think dogs’ acute sense of smell can detect changes that tell them a family member is dying.

Timmy the 3-legged Lhasa keeps vigil by Nana Irene's hospice bed.

It was time for Timmy to "step up to the plate," so to speak, with only three legs. After all, Timmy was a certified therapy dog in schools. Now, he felt compelled to assume a new role so he could provide comfort to Nana and his whole family. He rarely left his Nana Irene vigil.

About Our Team Timmy Dogs Who Lived with Nana Irene for Eight Years: Timmy, our three-legged Lhasa and "ambassadog" has befriended many children who’ve come to Last Hope Adoption Center in Wantagh. He's done his best to show them that a physical disability, even one as drastic as a missing limb, need not dampen your spirits, accomplishments or power to inspire others. He is among the happiest dogs on the planet.

When scout and school groups visit Last Hope, we want them to leave with more than memories of an animal shelter tour. Hopefully, after hearing the story of overcoming injury or illness about each of the three Team Timmy pups belonging to Sue (the dogs’ mom and Nana Irene's daughter), the young visitors are encouraged to view physical disabilities in a new light.

Nana Irene and little Beverly the moppet rescued off the streets of Los Angeles.

Sue introduces each group to Timmy and his sister dogs, Pammy Sue and Beverly. Timmy came into Babylon Shelter after being found on Sunrise Highway in Copiague with a broken leg that had healed itself in a backward position. According to specialists, amputation offered a better prognosis than surgery.

Meanwhile, the best thing to happen to Pammy Sue was to break her leg. She was a breeding Shih-tzu at a Kentucky puppy mill who must have caught her leg in her cage. It was badly fractured so the mill sent her to a Kentucky kill shelter, which then gave her to another shelter that was transport partners with Last Hope.

Sue took her foster Pammy to the Schwartzman Animal Medical Center in NYC where, via the AMC to the Rescue program, she had complex surgery, inserting metal rods to repair her leg. Puppy mill confinement left Pammy with emotional wounds too. Timmy taught her how to be a real dog.

The first page of the 1947 Look Magazine article featuring Irene as a visiting nurse in NYC.

Sue saw Beverly on Facebook as a tiny, matted moppet, fending for herself on Los Angeles streets. Once captured, it was discovered the moppet had constant tremors, not from fear. Her shakes were probably the result of surviving distemper. Beverly was not a candidate for adoption so Sue was determined to save her. Sue flew to California, adopted Beverly from a local rescuer who pulled her from the city shelter and red-eyed home the same day.

Circle of Life: Irene Katches Polacek was born in 1921 in Czechoslovakia, and passed last Sunday at the age of 101. She lived with her daughter Sue and Sue's four dogs for the last eight years after complications from heart valve surgery deprived her brain of oxygen. Prior to the operation, Irene spoke at least three languages and did the New York Times crossword in pen.

Irene was a compassionate, independent woman, ahead of her time. She graduated from the Cornell University- New York Hospital School of Nursing school and became a visiting nurse in Manhattan. On her 100th birthday, her grandchildren "interviewed" Nana Irene and were mesmerized by her vivid recall of details from the past.

But no one was aware of something special that surfaced in her condo two days before her passing. In January 1947, Irene was the only nurse featured in a three-page pictorial in Look Magazine about the importance but shortage of visiting nurses. Among the photos and her 45 patients per week, Irene visited new mothers to teach them how to bathe their infants, tended to an amputee, gave insulin shots to a blind, elderly couple, showed a class of expectant mothers how to make formula and the photo that will be forever stay in my mind- Irene at 25 years old comforted a dying woman on home hospice. Irene's life had gone full circle.

Irene and our Team Timmy Dogs: Before having Sue as her caretaker, Irene was never the dog lover her daughters and grandchildren are. But living with Team Timmy so long changed that. Irene would marvel at how cute each dog was.

Besides Timmy being her guardian, Beverly the Los Angeles moppet became her favorite. Tiny Beverly would sit on Irene's lap and stay with her.

Eventually Beverly's tremors stopped completely. We attributed that to love being the cure-all, and to gravity because Beverly, who was used to eating rocks to feel full, doubled her healthy weight in her loving home. She went from five pounds to ten.

We don't know how Timmy will be when the hospital bed is removed. Years ago, I placed a Babylon Shelter dog with a couple. The dog and husband became inseparable. When the man was diagnosed with an aggressive bone cancer, the dog never left his side. When the empty hospital bed was rolled away, the dog wailed.

The lives of the dogs and Irene intertwined. For eight years, every Brownie tour planned was scheduled around Irene's doctor appointments and day. Lunch was at noon; dinner at five-firm. Sue never left her mom for long. Irene was a visiting nurse and extraordinary caretaker for many people. Part of Irene's legacy is her daughter Sue was an extraordinary caretaker for one special lady.

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