The World Needs More Grandmas

senior miniature pinscher dog on couch

When our staff sees an animal in need, we stop to help. It doesn’t matter if we’re on or off the clock, we know it’s the right thing to do. In this case, not only did it save a homeless pet’s life, but it landed her in a home where she gets more love than she ever could’ve imagined. With our medical operations supervisor, Raegan.

Our communications director, Scott, was up in St. Joe on a whim to ride bikes with some buddies when, on his way home, he saw a little dog trotting against I-29 traffic inches away from the white line on the side of the highway. The miniature pinscher was oblivious to how much danger she was in, with cars zipping past her at more than 70 miles per hour. It was getting dark and she was headed toward an off ramp where traffic was bustling, so Scott jumped in action.

 “Helping animals is what we do here. It was just instinctual for me.”

Scott Cotter, PRCKC Communications Director

“I slammed on the brakes and whipped onto the side of the road, flung my door open and went after her,” said Scott, who’s 100 percent certain she would’ve died that night if he hadn’t been there to help. 

senior miniature pinscher dog outside

He was afraid he might spook her and make her bolt into traffic, but, fortunately, the cars were so loud that they muffled the sound of him sneaking up behind her. They successfully made it back to the car and his friend, Richard, held the dog safely in his arms while Scott got a hold of our CEO, Michelle, who, without thinking twice, graciously opened her door to give the dog a warm place to sleep until we could scan her for a chip at the clinic the next morning. The little lady had one, but the registration dated all the way back to 2005 (which told us she was at least 16 years old) to a breeder who didn’t know anything about her. But we weren’t going to give up. She was the sweetest thing, so we knew someone had to be missing her. But, after much searching, we came up short … and were completely shocked when no one claimed this sprightly, senior pup.

“Senior pets have so much love to give, they just need a chance.”

Raegan Hughlett, PRCKC Medical Operations Supervisor, RVT

So, what next?

She hung out in our admin offices the entire day, and we all starting to get really一I mean really attached. But no one was more enamored of the min pin than Raegan, who was the first one to start calling her Grandma. And everyone knows that when you give a pet a name, there’s a 99.9 percent chance that pet is going home with you. She claimed she was only fostering, and maybe she was, but we all knew Raegan was the missing puzzle piece in Grandma’s life. And vice versa.

young woman hugging small senior dog

Just days before Scott rescued Grandma, Raegan was talking with our community resource coordinator, Rae, about how she felt like she needed to add a petite, senior pet to her gang. But Raegan has a 5-year-old pit bull named Ivy, and she’s very particular and only finds friends in small, docile dogs.

“I’ve always been sad that I most likely could never get another pet while owning Ivy because of her dog and cat aggression. But I’ve always had a big heart for senior pets and thought that a small, senior dog would be a great alternative and, potentially, a really fun fit to our family. I just needed to find the right one…” Raegan said.

senior miniature pinscher in sweater

It wasn’t shortly after that that Rae showed up to her cubicle with the obese miniature pinscher in her arms. Raegan, having worked in veterinary medicine for four years, immediately noticed that Grandma needed medical attention. Her mouth was full of diseased teeth, she clearly exceeded a healthy weight for a dog her size and she had all of these massive tumors hanging off of her body.

“I immediately felt sad for her,” she said. “I knew a lot of people would think she looked like a piece of work, but all I saw was a very sweet, old lady with lots of potential.”

Aside from her shortcomings, she was everything Raegan was looking for in a companion.

“Her personality is bigger than ever in all the best ways.”

Raegan Hughlett
senior miniature pinscher cuddling white pit bull

She received some much needed TLC on her first night home: two baths that left the water brown and reeking of cigarette smoke, a pedicure, an ear cleaning and, of course, some snuggles that were way overdue. Raegan gave her a couple of days to settle in before our veterinary team gave her a dental cleaning to extract all of her painful teeth, removed two of her large tumors (one of which would drag on the ground as she walked – ouch!) and got her up to date on all of the core vaccines and parasite prevention. After having her for two months, she also noticed that Grandma’s vision and hearing wasn’t the best, but that was to be expected after 16 years around the sun. Her new diet has also helped her lose three pounds, which is a major win for both her and Raegan!

Now, she’s Raegan’s shadow, prancing after her around the clinic everywhere she goes and helping to kick start our day while her mom leads PRCKC’s daily morning meetings. And, when Raegan takes a break from saving lives throughout the day, she keeps her lap warm while she works hard to figure out more ways to help other pets just like her.

“Trying to describe her personality just makes me smile. She is like my own personal hype-woman,” Raegan says. “It has been so rewarding having a front row seat to Grandma’s transformation.”

“Our teams here save so many lives each week. The end result is that a loving, living being gets to be in a family where they are cared for and given a good life. That’s what this is all about.”

Scott Cotter

And, as someone who has watched their relationship blossom in just two short months, I can say with no doubt that Raegan is the best person to love Grandma for many more years to come. 

“It makes me so happy to see how excited Grandma is when Raegan comes to take her home at the end of the day,” Scott says. “She might be 16, but she bounces like a puppy and starts hyperventilating. She deserves that instead of a lonely, awful death on the side of the road … it makes me happy that I played a part in saving that sweet old girl.”

Homeless senior pets are so often overlooked in shelters, and my hope is that, by sharing this story, it shows people how much love they are capable of giving. 

young woman hugging small dog

“She has given me some purpose by letting me take care of her. It’s so much easier to wake up and do the mundane things when she is there to join me for all of it,” Raegan says.

So please be kind and do everything you can to help pets. This is the type of result you get when you do, and, if you ask me, our world could benefit from more love like the one Scott, Raegan and Grandma have to give.

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