We thought we rescued Winnie, but no... Winnie rescued us. We thought we gave Winnie all the love in the world, but no... Winnie gave us far more. And so, we will cherish and honor his memory through this foundation. Special-needs doggies have so much love to give. And they deserve to be loved before they leave this earth.
We named him Winston… a name which seemed regal and fitting for this Westie-Schnauzer mix. His bio from the rescue shelter indicated he was deaf and also had some vision impairment. No problem, we thought… we have a blind dog already. What’s one more special needs dog to add to our rescue group of three?
We soon realized Winston had other issues that stretched beyond hearing and vision impairments. And we also soon realized that Sir Winston wasn’t really regal at all... instead, he was the most endearing, sweet soul of a doggie that you’d ever meet. The name Winston soon translated into Winnie (as in Winnie the Pooh) because it just seemed so much more fitting of his adorable personality.
Winnie was an old soul when we rescued him. He had been found in a ditch off of Interstate 20 in Monroe, Louisiana, and was taken in by a local rescue shelter. I have a love of rescue doggies and already had 3 rescue dogs at the time. I had somewhat sworn off looking at the rescue websites... a promise of sorts that I had made my husband after we obtained rescue doggie number 3. So why did I decide to break that promise and visit the website of one local shelter that day in January 2020? I believe God led me to do so that chilly winter day. And my husband? Perhaps reluctant at first to take on another doggie (but deep down as much of a dog-lover as I am), agreed to go visit the shelter with me that Saturday afternoon, and a couple of hours later, we were headed home with our newest addition. Yes, I have no doubt that this was God’s plan for sweet Winnie Pooh… He was meant to come into our lives and soak up some serious doggie-loving in the coming months.
We soon learned that Winnie had a lot of issues. Our vet said he had likely experienced some type of trauma, perhaps from being hit by a car. He didn’t seem to have a lot of feeling in his rear legs, though he was able to walk. And he seemed to have some mental issues, as well. House-training was a chore, as he just didn’t seem able to “hold it” for very long. Winnie and I spent hours together in our back yard, walking all around on a leash until he would finally go potty. Afterward, when I removed the leash, he would run and hop all around the yard. He may have been an old fella, but to see him run and hop, you’d think he was a young pup. We often joked that we weren’t exactly sure of his mix, as perhaps rabbit (those ears!) or baby goat (those hops!) was in there somewhere?! Oh, those many, many, many walks around the yard… Yes, I saw many sunrises and many sunsets with Winnie, perhaps more than I had ever seen before. Such busy lives we lead and not usually stopping long enough to enjoy God’s creation. Yes, God may have brought Winnie into our lives so he could soak up some love before he departed this earth, but we are the ones who were blessed. His sweet soul brought such love and warmth into our lives, and also forced us to slow down and take in those beautiful sunrises and sunsets on a daily basis.
To know Winnie was to love him. Everyone who met him adored him. Winnie would spend hours marching around the house, and then just drop to the floor and nap wherever he landed. His landing was usually in one of several soft doggie beds, though sometimes only part of him would land in the bed! His sweet soul was old, and he so enjoyed his naps. In his waking hours, he loved to just follow you around the house. His walk was more of a march... we often joked that he was “on patrol.” He learned quickly about treat time and would follow the other 3 dogs and wait patiently behind them until it was his turn for a treat. To a stranger, he may have seemed aloof... but he was actually quite the opposite. Winnie loved to snuggle. He loved to come lay down next to you. He wanted to be near his dog-mama and daddy and the other pups. In short, I think Winnie had led a rough life. And Winnie now had a warm home, soft bed, and a dog-mama and daddy who offered up hours upon hours of love and snuggles. And those eyes… deep, black, soulful eyes which seemed to say so much… thank you for giving me a home... thank you for loving me... can I just lay here by you and snuggle forever… Those eyes could melt an iceberg. Yes, Winnie was so loved.
There were times when I was so exhausted from work and so exasperated with Winnie and his refusal to go potty on my timetable... times that I told God I just didn’t know how much longer I could handle him. Winnie turned my life upside down. I couldn’t go to the gym anymore in the mornings because I had to stay home and take care of Winnie before work. I couldn’t go to the gym after work because I had to hurry home to take Winnie out. I couldn’t go run errands after work because I had to hurry home. But each time I talked with God about Winnie and my struggles, I would always end with “But God, I love this doggie so much and I don’t want to give him up… I just can’t..”
One morning in October 2020, a mere 9 months after he had come into our lives, Winnie left us. He left us far too soon. We shed buckets of tears as we buried him in our back yard. We knew he could never be replaced. He was one of a kind. We wish we could have rescued him years sooner. And we wish he would have stayed with us for many more years. Every day since his passing, I wish that I would have to linger in the mornings to care for him, or rush home after work to let him out. But Winnie, alas, was old and tired. And he left this earth for doggie-heaven, full of love in his sweet doggie soul. I now envision Winnie running through open fields in doggie-heaven with no pain, and I’ll look forward to the day I can once again run alongside him and then cuddle and love on him again.
Winnie has left a huge hole in our lives and in our hearts. To honor Winnie, we have formed this nonprofit agency. Adopting a rescue dog, and in particular, a special-needs one is indeed a labor of love. But the love these sweet pups give far exceeds the love they soak up, of that I am sure. Yes, we thought we rescued Winnie, but no... Winnie rescued us. We thought we gave Winnie all the love in the world, but no... Winnie gave us far more. Yes, to know Winnie was to love him. He will be forever missed. And so we will cherish and honor his memory through this foundation. If we help only one special-needs rescue dog, it will be worth all the effort. Our hope is to help many. These doggies have so much love to give. And they deserve to be loved before they leave this earth.
Won’t you help us make a way – WINNIE’S WAY – for rescue dogs with special needs to find the care and love they need and deserve. If you find it in your heart to help, please consider donating to Winnie’s Way!