Harry’s Big Adventures

Blog Post

When you see Harry, you can’t help but smile. Within seconds of meeting someone new, he will hop into your lap and smother you with kisses.

Harry came to the Sacramento SPCA as a transfer from an overburdened shelter and immediately made an impression on all of the staff members. This happy-go-lucky pup with a silly hairdo was full of personality! We never imagined that such a joyful, bouncy dog was also in the late stages of renal failure.

At the Sacramento SPCA, foster care is usually designed to help animals who are not yet ready for adoption – whether they are tiny, underage kittens or dogs who need a comfortable place to recover from surgery. However, over the years, the SPCA has received more animals of an advanced age. Many of these dogs and cats have medical conditions typical of older animals, including dental disease, arthritis and more. While our shelter medicine team cares for many of these issues, some medical conditions go beyond treatment. How could we help these animals have the best quality of life for whatever time they have left? One answer: Fospice. “Fospice” — a combination of foster and hospice care – is a brand new component of our Foster Care program.

Thanks to a grant from Maddie’s Fund, we spent a weekend with a senior dog rescue group learning the specifics about how to successfully manage this endeavor. But another question remained: How would we find people with loving homes willing to volunteer? These hospice families would need to provide love and care, but also be able to say goodbye when the time comes. So we turned to our supporters for help! We created an adorable video of Harry and asked our social media community for volunteers. The response was surprising — and overwhelming!

Volunteers jumped at the chance to help Harry carry out his ‘bucket list.’ Beatriz Gomez immediately contacted us and took Harry home to foster a few days later. Why did she volunteer? It just felt right.

“I had toyed with the idea of fostering a dog for years but kept putting it off and procrastinating. When I saw Harry on Facebook, though, I knew this was the moment – I needed Harry just as much as he needed me!” says Gomez.

After going through hospice care with both of her parents, Gomez wanted to honor her mother by giving another creature a chance to live life with no regrets. She discovered that helping Harry live life to the fullest has also changed her outlook on life. “I’ve also found more value in my little moments as well. When I see Harry and Alfons (my adopted dog) staring at me with tails wagging, I’ll put that laundry down and play with them,” she explains. Beatriz & Harry started an Instagram account for Harry (@harrys_big_adventures) documenting his experiences out in the world, including attending one of our own Yappy Hours!

When the time comes for Harry to cross the rainbow bridge, the Sacramento SPCA will be with them every step of the way. When asked how she prepares herself for the difficult moment, Gomez responds “You have to take it moment by moment…I was drawn to the idea of fostering because I wanted to help a dog get ready for his forever family; with Harry, it was the idea of making sure he HAD his forever family, if only for a short me.”