Back in 2013, the Sanctuary invited a young Chihuahua mix named Rio to the Sanctuary after needing some extra TLC from the local municipal shelter. Rio had no training, tons of energy, and was a very nervous dog. Developing a routine of daily exercise and positive reinforcement training, Rio grew into a lovely companion and even grew out of the habit of ankle biting. When ready for adoption, he needed lots of attention and reassurance from his person. It wasn’t long before he was adopted to a retired woman that had all the time and love to shower Rio- a match made in heaven. As we always do, we kept in touch with Rio post-adoption to relay any advice or guidance to ensure both Rio and his owner were supported and set up for success.
Eight years later, this past January, we were contacted by Rio’s owner with some devastating news. She developed an incurable medical condition and her health was deteriorating. Due to that, she had to move in with her daughter in a different state and was unable to bring Rio with her. She was moving in less than a month and had to surrender Rio to OC. At this point, Rio was eight, and though very sweet, he knew his owner wasn’t feeling well for quite some time and had become very anxious. Given that she was moving, Rio’s belongings were packed away, giving Rio a clear clue that something wasn’t right.
We made sure there was room at the Sanctuary for Rio’s return, but given his increased anxiety and nervousness, we knew it would be hard for Rio’s mental health to transition to the Sanctuary from his home and then transition to another home. Given that, we entered Rio into our rehoming program in hopes to find a family through our already screened applicants. Immediately our adoption team of staff and volunteers moved into action making calls and scheduling meets and greets to find Rio a match within the strict timeframe.
Thankfully, we were able to find a wonderful couple that completely understood Rio’s situation and wanted to give him the emotional support and love he needed to make this transition. It’s been a couple weeks now and Rio has been doing well settling in. We updated Rio’s previous owner and she sent us this, “Thanks so much. It’s been really hard. This eases my heart a bit. Rio needs lots of love and a feeling of safety before he relaxes. It will take a week or so before he feels at home. My mind knows it’s for the best.” Knowing that Rio will be taken care of by Our Companions, no matter what happens, calmed all concerns and reassured her that Rio always had a home at OC.
Next we talked to Tory, who adopted the pair of kittens Keebler and Biscuit born at the Sanctuary in 2015, about our lifetime promise. “Thank goodness for the lifetime promise, because this is a lifetime issue.” Their names are now Tara and Tippy and both kittens were born with cataracts, but Tara’s condition was much worse. Tippy, the one with the pink nose, wasn’t in any discomfort and was adjusting fine, but Tara, the one with the black nose, had a compromised right eye that continuously needed medical support. Tory was willing to put in the daily care and consistent effort to help Tara, but the constant vet appointments and medication was certainly a financial burden to take on.
Not wanting a financial barrier to prevent this adorable pair from being adopted to a loving, wonderful home, Our Companions made a promise to cover all financial costs relating to Tara’s medical condition. We have kept that promise 6 years later and we will continue to keep that promise. Over time Tara’s right eye has atrophied and she’s been gradually losing her vision in that one eye. She recently was diagnosed with glaucoma, which is a condition that damages the optic nerve due to high pressure in the eye.
Tory admits that their emotional relationship can sometimes be affected by the 3x/day eye drops she has to administer into Tara’s eye. That being said, Tory absolutely loves the girls and says “these girls are the light of our lives” and doesn’t mind caring for their medical issues because “we are proud of our girls and love them to the moon and back!” Tory keeps a photo album on Facebook to document Tippy and Tara’s lives. Tory mentioned Tara has a follow up appointment later in the week, discussing possible solutions which might involve removal of the eye that Our Companions would cover. When asked about her experience with our lifetime commitment, Tory responded, “Especially this time with Covid, it’d be huge a financial burden to do this and with this lifetime promise, we’re able to.”
As the world has become more unpredictable, Our Companions strives to be a stable support system for families and their pets. Our adopted animals deserve to live in safe, loving homes with their people despite the twists and turns of life. We’re incredibly grateful to provide this commitment to our animals and community and stay true to the mission of this organization.