Experienced dog foster mother Elizabeth Starck picked up a 5-year-old French mastiff named Mae from the Southern Indiana Animal Rescue in late October 2019. Mae was terminally ill with cancer. That didn’t matter to Starck, who has provided a temporary home to hundreds of animals in need over the years.
Mae also suffers serious dental problems, including an underbite, and has lost much of her body mass to cancer. Starck knew what she had to do, though. “She just needs a permanent home, even if it’s just a week or two,” Starck told local news station WLKY. “She deserves to have a family, so I’ll be it.”
We made it official in front of Judge Carmichael today. Mae has been adopted, so she can spend her last days with her family ❤️(me being her family😊)
What this kind foster mom didn’t realize was that the new addition to her menagerie of foster animals would become an online star, with people donating food and sending messages of support from all over the country, from as far away as Hawaii.
As an animal fosterer, Starck takes in dogs of any age that have been rescued and need a safe, loving home. For the younger ones, it’s a chance to be around people and other dogs before going up for adoption to a forever home. Then there’s those like Mae, who just need a place to rest.
“I love the old ones. I love the ones that just need a place to go until it is their time,” Starck told the News and Tribune in Jeffersonville, Indiana. “Just knowing whether they are with me a week or for two years … I hope that their time with me is wonderful for them. It changes their life hopefully.”
Under Starck’s loving care, Mae has managed to survive long past anyone’s expectations. And the skinny mastiff certainly has brought joy to plenty of others; Starck was stunned by the viral response to Mae, as she told WAVE, “To me, she’s just a foster dog that I love like every other foster dog that I get, but to everybody else, they just love her story and her resilience.”
Noting that she’s received monetary and food donations both for Mae and for Southern Indiana Animal Rescue, Starck said “it’s wonderful to see this many people that care.”
Moreover, Starck has been surprised by how well Mae has gotten along with all the other dogs in the house as well as her cats. As she wrote on Facebook just before New Year’s 2020, “she has recently discovered the cats, which she appears to love. Her tail goes insane when she sees them.”
During the holiday season, Starck took Mae out into the Jeffersonville community for some meet and greets with her many fans, helping to raise money for the animal shelter. Once again, the response to this down-but-not-out dog was tremendous. “You can see the good in people. People really do care,” Starck told the News and Tribune. “Everyone is looking for that Christmas miracle that she will survive.”
While Starck knows that Mae’s cancer won’t disappear, she’s focused on trying to make the most of her now-extended lifespan. Besides Mae’s big wrinkly face, missing teeth, and protruding underbite, it’s her struggle to survive after a rough haul that really touches social media users. “Her story pulls at people,” her foster mother and guardian angel explained, adding, “Mae as a whole is what rescue is—giving somebody a second chance, whether it be a dog or a human.”