Beloved German Shepherd Brings Joy to Others Even After He Passed
I began working at Freshpet during the summer of 2014, and it quickly prompted dog-fever and endless hours on the pet adoption site, Petfinder. My boyfriend Willem and I found a dog that I fell for through Ready for Rescue, a group based out of NYC and headed by Doug Halsey.
The dog we inquired about ended up not being available due to complications with its foster at the time, so Doug recommended a few other dogs, including his “special case” and “long-shot,” Carlton. I immediately fell in love with him.
(His picture from Petfinder, after his surgery)
We were told that Carlton was found tied to a tree in Brooklyn, outside of Animal Control, with a very large tumor on his front paw. As a result, he was given three days before he was going to be put down. Ready For Rescue, under the impression that they had a home secured for Carlton, stepped in at the last moment, pulled Carlton from Animal Control and took him straight to the vet.
(Shortly after being rescued, before surgery)
With the biopsy coming back as cancer, the potential adopter backed out, but Ready For Rescue remained committed to Carlton, having his tumor removed and placing him in a kennel just out of the city, and put him up for adoption on Petfinder.
We finally met Carlton in early July in Bedford, NY. They let him outside into his play are where we played in a kiddie pool, and watched him enjoy a bucket of water where he’d dunk his head. He was so big and doofy. He still didn’t know his name very well, but responded nicely to treat. We just knew how good of a boy he was.
We left very muddy and very excited. A couple of days later we made the decision to take him home.
Willem and I once again made the drive out to Bedford, but this time we returned home with a big, stinky German Shepherd whom we decided to name Carlton Banks. He knew basic commands, but was terrible on a leash. As soon as we got home, he ate dinner (his favorite being Vital Grain Free Beef & Bison), drank a ton of water, and promptly laid down in our dark room. He spent quite a bit of his first few days sleeping in our room by himself, in the dark, only coming out to go for a quick walk or to eat.
Eventually he warmed up to us and began spending time where we were, behaving better on the leash, and thus taking longer walks.
Everything pretty much fell into place from there. We learned quite a bit about him and how best to train him. We went on a lot of hikes, he slept next to our bed every night. Our life was amazing together. He even got to accompany us on a road-trip to Minnesota, which he weirdly loved. We met so many people in our neighborhood from people stopping us to tell us how handsome Carlton was, and to give him a little pet. He loved the attention.
- Nicknames from Willem and I: Biggest Buddy, Bear, Wolf-Dog, C-town, or simply “C.”
- Nicknames for the neighborhood: the Mayor, the Neighborhood Dog, K-9 Unit.
Carlton’s health problems began to reveal themselves in late October, when he had his first seizure in the middle of the night. The vet did not feel concerned about them until December when he had two seizures within 24 hours. As a result, we decided to put Carlton on medication to suppress his seizures and make him more comfortable.
While taking the medications, Carlton did not have another seizure until late January, where he had 6 over the course of two days. We took him to the ER, where we met Doug Hasley again, who was generous enough to assist us through the entire process. Doug had a working relationship with the vet and was able to give us time financially to pay off Carlton’s bills. Without his help we wouldn’t have been able to perform an MRI and ultimately understand what was going on with Carlton. MRI results showed that Carlton had a very advanced and aggressive brain tumor. He was put on an array of medications, including oral chemo treatments, and we were told that he only had a couple of months at most.
Every day after that was very precious, but exhausting. He was very loopy when he first came home, as he got used to his meds, and had to pee frequently. There were a lot of early mornings, late nights, and middle-of-the-night trips outside in the snow, as well as many more accidents.
One day, shortly after beginning the workday, Carlton had a small seizure despite being on two different anti-convulsants. Willem said he whimpered during this one, something that hadn’t happened before. He had another one shortly after, so Willem picked me up and we went to the vet. Carlton had two more seizures on the drive there, and another while we were waiting for the vet to free up. It was there that we were given options, and felt it best that Carlton’s suffering come to an end, because the other option was even more medications, which he was already having a lot of trouble with. The vet regretfully told us that, that was what he thought was best too.
It was a difficult time but I was grateful to be part of a company like Freshpet that understood that pets are family, and could relate to what we were going through. I found I had a support system that helped me cope. The company also offered to help with Carlton’s vet bills that had built up over the last few months.
Shortly after coming home after Carlton had passed, we gathered up all of his stuff and put it out of sight, as seeing his bed next to the couch was too much. We really wanted to donate his stuff, as he had quite a lot of very nice things and was incredibly spoiled with toys.
German Shepherd Rescue of New Jersey (GSRNJ) was recommended to me and I felt it was the perfect fit. Freshpet works with GSNRJ by graciously donating food to help all the foster parents feed their foster dogs a fresh meal. I connected with Lynn DeStefano, who directed me to Rambo. He was the pup who got first pick of the goodies Carlton left behind.
Rambo is a 6 year old German Shepherd who was recently taken in by a foster through GSRNJ after his owner passed away. He now has a foster sister and a large backyard where he is working on shedding some extra weight which he gained over the past three years, which he spend in bed with his sick owner. He is a classically handsome GSD with a really endearing “lazy ear.” He is known for being quite the couch potato and is a gentle giant.
It felt amazing to come full circle and be able to make a difference in another German Shepherd’s life with Carlton’s favorite things. He would have loved that too, and it helped to bring me just a little bit closer to closure. Freshpet also graciously made a food donation to GSRNJ to help all the foster parents feed their foster dogs a fresh meal.
Rambo is still up for adoption and is eagerly waiting to be placed in a permanent home. He’s warm, loving and devoted, and great with kids and other dogs. He just needs someone to take a chance with him like we once did with Carlton.