Rescued By a Rescue Dog

Quigley, our funny little cattle dog.

Quigley, our funny little cattle dog.

It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them, and every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are. – Anonymous

Last week it was time to put our Australian Blue Heeler to sleep. It was a difficult decision to make because Quigley was a part of our family. It was hard to imagine life without him. He was approaching 15 and in the past year his health had been steadily declining. It became apparent in his last few days that his body was shutting down. I didn’t want him to experience an ounce of suffering, so I prayed for guidance to know when it was his time to say goodbye. When that knowing came, I talked it over with the vet and made an appointment to bring him in the next day.

As hard as it was to let Quigley go, my husband, Bob, and I knew it was the right thing to do. Quig came to us through a shelter after he had been dumped on a country road. Knowing that he had been abandoned, I vowed to him that I would take care of him. Putting him down was my final way of doing that.

Quigley, on the day we put him down, spelling the flowers one more time.

Quigley, on the day we put him down, smelling the flowers one last time.

Quigley was the best dog we ever had. You don’t realize how much a pet fills your life until you experience the hollow place they leave when they’re gone. Now I yearn for the wonderful, little things about him.

I miss hearing his toenails on the floors.

I miss him laying by my feet.

I miss how he took his leash in his mouth when it was time for a walk.

I miss seeing him run for cover whenever he saw a fly.

I miss how he loved to chase squirrels.

I miss watching him pull my son by the sleeve to the cabinet where the dog treats were kept.

I miss hearing him jump off the couch as I entered the room (he wasn’t allowed on the furniture).

I miss seeing his little mug watching me through the window after I walked out the door.

I missing watching him leap into the air to grab a frisbee mid-flight.

I miss him falling on his back to have his belly scratched.

I miss him bringing in the morning paper.

Quig, always a good sport, let me photograph him for this illustration for my picture book, "Glory in the Morning."

I immortalized Quig in an  illustration in my picture book, “Glory in the Morning.”

I got Quigley to hold this pose by holding a treat up. He would do anything for a cookie.

I got Quigley to hold this pose by holding a treat up.  He would do anything for a cookie.

After Quigley was euthanized, Bob and I were heartbroken. We thought that maybe in a year we’d be ready to get another pet. Our hearts should be mended by then. But without our cattle dog, our house is too quiet.

That evening our son calls to check on me and suggests we get another dog. “Why wait?” he says. “There are so many dogs that need to be loved.” His words convinced me to look up the Australian Cattle Dog Rescue of Illinois. Even though we just put Quigley down a few hours ago, I filled out an on-line application. I thought finding the perfect dog would be a long process, so I’d better get started.

Not too long after hitting send, I received an email from the president of the rescue. She informed me they would be having a dog meet and greet at a Pet Smart not too far from us the next day. She also told me of a red heeler named Maxwell that they had just gotten in.

I decided to go to the meet and greet but not tell Bob. He was so adamant about not getting another dog for awhile. Besides when I saw a photo of Max I felt no connection to him. Shortly after I arrived at the Pet Smart, a lady walked in with the the cutest, little Australian Blue Heeler on a leash. Not Maxwell, another pup. When I went over to pet him, I learned she was his foster caregiver and had brought him for the rescue. When I heard that, I was sure he was our dog. I already loved him. His name is Gary and he is a stray from Ohio. He’s 8 months old, the same age Quig was when he came to us. I knew Gary was a gift. I proceeded to fill out the papers to adopt him. I’ll be able to bring him home in a few weeks after he is neutered and microchipped.

On my ride back home I kept thinking, what have I done? I really should have talked it over with Bob before I adopted another dog. I felt such a sense of urgency to do it though. I knew Gary needed us. He was ours.

That evening I was apprehensive about what Bob’s response would be when I told him about our new pet. And what did the man, who was so certain we should wait to get another dog, say?  “Why didn’t you bring Gary home with you?”

Meet Gary

Meet Gary

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Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.


33 thoughts on “Rescued By a Rescue Dog

  1. So sorry for your loss Susan. I would love to hear more about Quigley’s fear of flies. I feel there is no better way to honor the memory of a loss pet than to open your home and heart to another when the time is right. It sounds like the time was right. Welcome Gary, be prepared to pose for Sue’s drawings.


    • Thanks for the kind words. About the flies, whenever one got into our house Quig would run and hide from it. One night he ran and jumped into bed with Bob and me because of a huge fat fly. He was terrified until I figured out there was a fly downstairs and killed it. Quigley was such a little character.


  2. Oh Sue! You have experienced all the bitter sweet of a dog owning us. I am glad for you and Bob and Quig that you enjoyed each other for fifteen years! I know how a dog’s life is an era of our own. I have also found solace in that quote with which you began this entry.
    And now, hang onto your hat! Everything you forgot about a YOUNG cattle dog will come right back at you! Better get out those running shoes and start exploring various dog training activities… that Gary boy will need a job!


    • Thanks, Georgia. I took Quigley for a daily walk until the day before he died. I miss that! It’s probably good that I have a break to rest up for Gary. I’m sure his puppiness will give me a run for my money!


  3. Quigley was a very special dog, but I know your new dog needs the love and care you are going to give him and in return he will give you another great experience that only dogs can do. After all dog spelled backwards is God.


  4. I’m so sorry to learn of you losing your Quigley! I had no idea. I know how much your family loved Quig and what a special dog he was. I know how much it hurts to lose a furry family member. But I’m pleased to read about Gary and how he was brought into your life and I can’t wait to hear more about him. Quigley was blessed to be a part of your family, and I know the same will be true with Gary.


  5. Dear Sue, Such sorrow and such joy – all in the same post. I am so sorry for your loss. I loved my Sophie as you loved Quigley. She still lives in my heart. How grateful I am that I now have Sasha to fill a new place in my heart. And…how blessed Gary will be to have such a loving new family. May he bring you renewed joy! Lois


  6. Hi Sue ~ Your son was right! You weren’t meant to wait, and Gary and your family were meant to find each other and be together. I’m sure Quig approves, and is feeling happy and content in his new home in Doggie Heaven. .Xoxo.


  7. Hello! I read your story and sounds SO familiar…First I am SO sorry for your loss I know how difficult it is to lose a member of your family cus thats what our pets are they are one of our children! I also believe once you say goodbye to one pet and feel the time is right to get another its not to forget but to help heal. I was recently in the same situation. We had a border collie/black lab mix Shadow who was 12 years old and got sick (was diagnosed with diabetes and needing insulin) we figured oh thats fine we can handle this with giving him the insulin and vet visits once a week for routine sugar level tests. Within 6 months for some reason the vet just couldnt figure out the right amount of insulin to give him to get his sugars under control so he rapidly got worse by pretty much losing his sight and having neuropithy in his hips having s hard time walking it was when we went camping (which he did and loved his whole life) we decided he was suffering and just couldnt be selfish anymore it was time to say goodbye…he loved playing with a tennis ball catching it and on that camping trip we brought his ball with and he just couldnt see it or retrieve it and this was heart breaking!!! When we got home we knew it was time to make the dreaded appt to take him in and say goodbye:( After he was gone i cried ALL the time my heart ached and we waited for about 10 months till we felt it was time to fill our hearts with another dog. We bought a new house in May of this year with 2.6 acres and felt it was time to get another dog and we wanted a puppy so we went in search of a border collie sland at the pet store there in the very last cage sharing with another dog with his back to the window was the cutest Australian Cattle dog which at the time had no idea of the breed but my daughter said it looked like an old dog as a puppy cus of their bluish/grey color and we decided to take him to a room and play with him and it was like he chose us he was SO full of hugs and kisses and playful he was 9 weeks old and had just came in the evening before…we walked out of the store with him that day!!! He is now almost 5 months and brings our life SO much joy!!! And now we think its time to give him a companion and this time instead of buying a puppy we want to rescue a one! We love the breed and want to soon get another from the Australian Cattle Dog Rescue of Illinois!!! Thanks for sharing your story I cried while reading it cus I knew exactly what you were going through and wanted you to know your not alone!!! Quigley was beautiful and SO is Gary!!! You are SO talented cus your artwork is AMAZING!! GOD bless!!!😊🐾🐾


    • Hi Krystin, Thanks for sharing your story. Having a dog is such a bittersweet experience. They fill our hearts and lives but always have to leave too soon. I am so happy you are looking into adopting from the Australian Cattle Dog Rescue of Illinois. They are great people and so many wonderful dogs come through their doors. Thanks for the compliment about my art. I know Gary will find his way into one of my paintings soon. Godspeed with your cattle dog search.


  8. Godspeed Quigley. I”m glad you knew love. Our days with our little 14 yr. old deaf and somewhat neurotic Bichon are numbered and I know she is our last dog which will make it even harder when she’s gone. I hope Gary turns out to be as wonderful as Quigley was.


    • Thanks, Mary. Quigley was such a wonderful little guy. I understand how bittersweet this time with your Bichon must be. I firmly believe that although you may not get another pet, something will fill the hole that she leaves. God is good and never allows loving hearts to be wasted. xo


  9. i am very sorry for your loss, Sue. I’m sure Gary will bring lots of doggy joy into your life and that ist he best tribute to your beloved Quigley.
    Judy and Quincy (Another “Q” dog)


    • Thanks, Judy. You and Quincy understand the bond between pets and those who love them. Quig was such a funny, special dog. I am looking forward to loving and caring for Gary. I have a feeling He will make us smile every bit as much as Quig did.


  10. Oh Sue,
    The memory vine you traced of beloved Quigley could only have come from a mother-heart that loved that little dog so much. I’m not a doggie person, not by any stretch of the mind, but my heart ached for you and for Bob.
    And now, Gary will soon call your home his home. Like dear Quigley, he’s already warmed his place on Commonplace Grace. In all likelihood, Gary will wiggle his place in the illustrations that you will go on to quilt in the coming years.

    In the grief of hope, there is always life.


  11. I first want to say how sorry I am for you losing Quigley, how happy I am you were a devoted pup parent. I don’t usually comment on posts like this, but I felt the need to after I saw the picture of Gary. His eyes are what drew me. My son adopted a dog with the same color eyes and let me tell you of all the dogs, past and present, this dog had to be the smartest, most loyal loving dog he ever had. Those eyes held such a wealth of knowledge it was unbelievable at times. So I guess what I’m trying to say is enjoy this guy cause it’s gonna be an adventure.


    • Thank you so much for writing. I loved what you said about Gary’s eyes. You are confirming what I know in my heart. Bob and I are so looking forward to bringing Gary home with us on Aug. 29th.


  12. I know how hard it is to lose a pet family member. One can tell that Quigley was a special puppy. Gary is very fortunate that the two of you found each other. My sympathies for your loss and congratulations on your upcoming new addition. I love the drawing you did of Quigley – and with a fairy!


    • Thanks, Catherine. My vet used to say that Quigley was a “once-in-a-lifetime” dog. Gary seems to be a spark of Quigs, so sweet, silly and smart. Can people have two “once-in-a-lifetime” dogs? I have my fingers crossed.


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