Gateway Pet Guardians Blog

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A Heart Too Big For This World: Chris, Sarah and Pia’s Story

Pia SnugglingLast April, Gateway Pet Guardians received a call from a Washington Park fire chief about a German Shepherd dumped in the area. She was thin and needed help. We named her Pia, and she became a part of the Gateway Pet Guardians family.

Shortly after her rescue, we learned that Pia had a heart murmur. After visiting the cardiologist, it was discovered she had heart disease and was given less than three months to live. Fast forward nine months, and Pia defeated the odds. She spent nine beautiful months being loved and doted on. She was adopted, and later returned. But in November, she met Sarah and Chris Hanley, whom she would spend the rest of her life with.

Sarah and Chris are fosters, and opened their home to Pia in late November. With so much transition in a short amount of time, Pia had trouble eating and was extremely shy. But with the help of the Hanleys and GPG alum Dagny, she was coerced out of her shell and became comfortable in their home. Chris recalls, “From the first day, even though we knew that she could die suddenly, we wanted her to be a dog. To run, to play, to chase, to wrestle, and to enjoy whatever time she had left. She would go on walks with us, she’d wrestle with Dagny, she’d chase a ball until we put it ‘to bed’ for the night, and she’d enjoy going to the dog park, and even to work with Sarah. She loved meeting new people and couldn’t hold still for petting, she wanted you to pet all of her at the same time.”

Pia and Dagny

Pia enjoyed her daily routine with the Hanleys, especially snuggling with Sarah. “If I really have to pick one favorite thing about Pia it would be snuggling with her. She always seemed uncomfortable when we invited her onto the bed or the couch, like she was about to get in trouble. But those days that she overcame whatever hangup she had and jumped into bed to snuggle made me feel like she finally felt safe and loved.”

Pia and Her Cat FriendOn December 31, 2016, the Gateway Pet Guardians family mourned the loss of beautiful Pia. Pia met many people who loved her in her short time in rescue. Our hearts are heavy with her passing, but we are so grateful she came to know warmth and love in her final months. And we are so grateful the Hanleys opened their home to her, knowing that Pia had little time left.

When asked what advice they have for other fosters, the Hanleys have this to say: “Definitely consider doing it. Knowing you’ve done some good in this world – to help an animal get off the streets and find a home is incredibly rewarding. It is bittersweet when it is time for them to leave but you’ll know you’ve done right by them. And even though Pia didn’t get to leave us for another home, we take comfort that she left this world knowing she was loved. And as hard as losing her has been, we would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Thank you, Chris and Sarah, for helping Pia through her final months. Gateway Pet Guardians is lucky to have such compassionate and loving foster families, and we will always remember Pia in our hearts.

If you would like to save a life like the Hanleys, consider becoming a foster family today. Visit www.gatewaypets.com/foster to learn more.

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