An Unacceptably Late Tribute

On June 20, 2013, the angel on earth known as Poppy passed away.


I hope I am remembering the facts properly, but if I’m not, I invite Poppy’s mom to correct me.

Poppy joined the family of my friends, Nora and Randy, as a foster in February of 2012.     Shortly after arriving,  it was learned she had cancer on top of the previously diagnosed allergies and Valley Fever.   That was enough to move Poppy from foster status to permanent family.

Poppy probably knew more love in her last 17 months than she did in her previous 8 years.   There was no one else on this planet that could have loved and cared for her as well as Nora and Randy.  They knew their time with Poppy would be short, but they didn’t care.

The last time I saw Poppy was in May of this year.  It was the first time she ever ventured out into the back yard, sans her mom, to speak to me while I was working.   I felt quite honored that this special girl finally accepted me.

I would offer my condolences to Nora and Randy,  but I’m not sure it’s necessary.  I know they wouldn’t trade their time, no matter how short, with Poppy and they would do it all over again if they could.  Actually, they probably will, with another special needs older dog with nowhere else to go.   It’s what they do.  It’s what they have done as long as I’ve known them.

A little confession here:

Many people comment on the ‘awesomeness’ of us here at Run A Muck Ranch for ‘taking in’ special needs kids.  Those people singing our praises are completely wrong.  Yes, if one of our existing kids became medically challenged, we wouldn’t think twice about doing all we could to keep them healthy and happy.   Indeed, all but 3 of our special needs were our kids long before their medical conditions became known.

Our relatively recent shift to deliberately take in a medical dog or one who could be deemed a hospice case, that is the direct result of the influence of my heroes, Nora and Randy.

I have a saying; ‘You see more by watching than looking’, and through watching the rewards and heart breaks of Nora and Randy through the last several years, we have changed.  We didn’t have to see a kid to love a kid before, and minor illnesses and injuries were never an issue.  But since meeting my heroes, Sarah, Slugger and Emmi have become bright spots in our lives.   We might not have stood by Sarah when she presented herself to us, and I assure you, we wouldn’t have deliberately gotten involved with Emmi and Slugger, if not for the example set by Nora and Randy.

To Nora and Randy:  I wish Poppy could have stayed with you longer.  I hope knowing what you did for her, Keeper, Molly, others I have never met, and are still doing for Lily, is why Sarah, Slugger, and Emmi are alive today.  It’s why there will probably be others like them in the future here at Run A Muck Ranch.  I can only hope that through this blog and it’s stories that I can influence at least one other person to follow the example you showed me.

Hopefully Poppy’s star is still bright so readers can say hi to her.  I am very sorry it took so long to tell people about her.


17 thoughts on “An Unacceptably Late Tribute

    1. Not putting ourselves down at all! Just wanted to be very clear on why it is we now push ourselves harder and farther. We learned from the best.

    1. Poppy, Keeper, Molly, Lily, and they are only the kids I met. There were so many others these wonderful people have helped as well.

  1. Beautifully written. Love extended to any creature (human, canine, other) whose time is known to be short is like no other. Every moment is a gift…from them to you and you to them.

  2. My condolences to Nora and Randy for their loss. But, I need also to express my admiration for someone who commits so fully to the being of an animal for whom there is so little hope for survival. That takes a special kind of person – those who can value the idea that an animal is a special being that expects little from us but is willing to give so much, even when they are ill or in pain. Your mom says that I become boring when I talk so much about Slugger and Emmi, but even though I have never actually met them they have become special to me. My real message is that people like Nora and Randy, and yes, you and Dan, who don’t see Poppy, Slugger, Emmi, Sarah, and others as a liability but as an opportunity to express your inner self. Thank you all for that. You make me feel so much better about the human race.

    1. If you don’t tell them they’re sick, they usually don’t know. Manage the condition as well as you can, as long as you can, with the understanding that there comes a point where you have to let go. The trick is understanding when to let go and who it is for.

      Everything has a beginning, a middle and an end. If all focus is on the end, rather the beginning and middle, what was the point of any of it?

  3. Thank you, Kate, and everyone that has posted, for all your caring and kind thoughts. Randy and I are so grateful to have had the chance to share our home with several special needs dogs. It is heartbreaking at times, but the sadness that comes with having to say goodbye is greatly outweighed by all the love and joy that each of these dogs has brought to our lives.

    Kate, you are still my hero. You and Dan are amazing, caring people. The world is a better place because of you. 🙂

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