On November 16 our beloved Essie crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Where to start, how to share what we are feeling at her loss? Essie lived most of her life at a horrifically overcrowded, filthy shelter. We know that she spent at least six years there, patiently and vainly waiting and hoping for someone to see her and take her home.

When we first met her, she was sharing a concrete and mud bunker with four other dogs, down at the bottom of a hill, seldom visited by potential adopters. Two of the other dogs in her “run” were crazy, to say the least. Their behavior likely scared off anyone who ventured near enough to see Essie. She was a dull grey-brown, matted fur, infested with fleas; perfectly nondescript and unmemorable. But she had the the most beautiful, soft, dark eyes we had ever seen. Those eyes shone with love and an inner sweetness, and their gaze stuck in our hearts and our memories, preventing us from ever forgetting her. Over a couple of years we visited this shelter many times to try to help in various ways. Each time, we checked to see if Essie was still there, and heartbreakingly, she was. It was clear that she was not going to be adopted. She was an older dog, with bad teeth, and she had several acral lick granulomas and a large benign tumor on one hind leg. No one was likely to adopt her.

When we moved our facility out of Antigua and up to the mountain, we very briefly had a few open runs. We decided to pull Essie from this other situation as soon as we could. If she wasn’t going to be adopted, we hoped that we could at least offer this old girl love and a good quality of life for her remaining years. Essie arrived with us on January 15, 2013. We will never forget the first time she walked on grass. She immediately rolled over onto her back and wriggled one way and another, snorting like a pig. Then she pushed off and squirmed her way down the grassy slope as though she was sledding, jumping up at the end of her “run” and hurrying back up to the top of the hill to do it again. It was the most joyful act we have ever seen. Once we got her cleaned up and removed years of grime and matts, it turned out that Essie was a most beautiful cream colored fluff-ball. She was also the sweetest, smiliest, and most loving dog imaginable. Essie loved everyone and everything (except the endlessly annoying puppies). She loved tummy rubs, being brushed and just leaning into you.

Essie lived most of her time with us as a member of the “Porch Pack”; the older sanctuary dogs who share the porch of Terry’s home, and have the run of a huge, grassy and wooded piece of property, full of avocado trees and other delicacies. These grey muzzles spend their days lounging in the sunshine, or curled up on soft bed on the porch. Essie fit in with them seamlessly. Essie already suffered from arthritis when we brought her in. We treated this with Rimadyl, and she was comfortable almost until the end.

Essie began to lose weight a couple of months ago. We first thought her teeth might be bothering her, and had a dental performed. She seemed better for a while, but blood work and x-rays this week showed mid stage renal failure and heart base tumor. Essie started to lose strength and control of her hind legs on Thursday, and began to have gastric distress and vomiting this weekend. We chose to help her cross the Bridge this morning, as she was clearly feeling badly and not enjoying her days any longer.

Although Essie never got our dream for her of a family all her own, she had a much larger family in Terry, John, Linda, and Ronaldo and Silvia, and in the multitude of volunteers and friends who loved her. She touched the hearts of so many people who got to share her sweetness and quiet love. Her Essie smile and her doe eyes will never be matched. Essie melted everyone who met her. The hole she left in our hearts with her passing is deep and painful, and yet at the same time our hearts are filled with gratitude for the joy that she brought us. We are thankful for every day we had with her. We miss you, little girl.

Thank you Dr. Calderon for helping Essie on her way. Your caring, compassion and gentleness made this difficult task an easy crossing for our girl.

We are a small organization dedicated to helping dogs and cats in Antigua. We sterilize, rehabilite and find homes, and work with other rescue groups.