Richard Ewers, of Bexar County, Texas, didn’t have an exorbitant bucket list when his doctors informed him that his days were numbered.
The 71-year-old Texan has spent the last handful of years focusing his attentions on creating a better world for the dozens of abandoned dogs that roam the streets or languish in shelters without proper homes. All in all, he’s adopted and assumed the care for a whopping 27 dogs, taking them in and providing them with love and attention after they found themselves on their own.
A trip to his doctor recently told him that his terminal cancer diagnosis was looking grim. He’s been given just a week to live—but in those last few days, even as he entered hospice care, he only had one dying wish.
For him, the best gift he can receive in his final days will be the knowledge that all of his dogs have been adopted by owners who will care for them.
When the news picked up his story, all but 11 of his 27 dogs had found new forever homes. That number wasn’t nearly high enough, though; with the knowledge that the state will have to put the dogs in a shelter if they remain homeless at the time of his passing, he’s been begging anyone to take them in and make this tough transition a little bit easier.
“Not having Mr. Richard here, there’s confusion, loneliness. There’s depression,” said Mary Oyler, who works with Save Our Strays San Antonio and has been sending volunteers to Ewers’s home to feed the dogs while he’s in hospice care.
As it is, his home has become a less-than-ideal location for the dogs in his absence. The property no longer has running water or electricity, leaving the dogs to roam without basic comforts until someone is willing to take them in.
While they may end up being difficult to integrate into a new family at first, most of the dogs have only known “Mr. Richard”—who had been adopting and taking in strays for a handful of years before receiving his stomach cancer diagnosis last year.
In the interim, a group has created a Facebook page to showcase the dogs that still need to find homes. The page, titled “Helping Mr. Richard and His Dogs,” gives some information on each of the dogs that are left and provides a way for people interested in taking the dogs in to help out.
The downside is that all of the dogs are at least semi-feral, so while they have been as well cared for as possible, they do still have struggles with human interaction.
The upshot, though, is that the community has come together in hopes of helping Ewers rest easy in his final days. Even if it’s coming down to the wire, it’s clear that everyone involved is doing their best to help the dogs find homes—and hopefully, most if not all of them will be able to do so. For a dying man’s last wish, that’s about as selfless as it gets.