When Janine Guido, the huge-hearted founder of Speranza Animal Rescue in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, met a dog called Watson, everything she needed to know about him was written on his face.
Watson was picked up from an emergency vet’s clinic after a college student found him wandering around in a local park. The vet estimated that Watson was around 7 or 8 years old. “He looked exhausted,” Guido told The Dodo, “like he was ready to give up the fight.”
For good reason. Watson’s body was covered in open wounds, he was visibly starving, and an alarming tumor protruded from one of his hind legs. It was clear that this dog had been suffering, and had been left uncared for, for a long time.
Sadly, it turned out that the tumor was cancerous. Guido knew it even before Watson’s prognosis was confirmed: “His eyes look tired,” she posted on Facebook. “My gut tells me the cancer has spread through his body.”
Guido moved the exhausted pup into the shelter, but by the time they got settled in, it was obvious that Watson wouldn’t be a long-term resident. He responded well to Guido, but the defeated look on his face held fast; all he wanted was her company.
Guido responded with the best medicine for a hopeless situation. She provided Watson with the comfort he needed.
“I had a gut feeling that things weren’t going to be good the next day,” Guido recalled. “I didn’t want to leave him alone. Not when he needed me the most.”
The conscientious shelter founder made a comfortable space in the laundry room at the rescue center. “Could not bring myself to leave sweet Watson tonight,” Guido shared on Facebook. “So I made up a bed full of comforters and pillows. I will be staying with this boy all night.”
She was as good as her word.
Lying down and wrapping her arms around the exhausted dog, Guido whispered messages of comfort and reassurance to the animal as he rested. She stayed with him all night long.
“He slept like a rock,” Guido remembered, explaining how the dog slept in her arms, cuddled up tight and reaping great comfort from her companionship. “I cried myself to sleep, and woke up in tears as well,” she said.
The next morning brought with it dwindling hope as Watson showed no interest in food or water. Already fearing that the dog had neurological problems owing to neglect, Guido watched as Watson paced in circles around the room.
Soon after, he gently passed away.
A somewhat chance encounter and a spectacular act of kindness changed both Guido and Watson’s lives completely. Guido was touched by the gentle dog’s plight and his surrender to her comfort in his last hours. Watson, in turn, got to spend his last day on Earth warm and dry, and in the arms of a person who cared for him.
“I was telling him how much he was loved,” Guido said, “and that his life mattered.”
Donations to the amazing ongoing work of Speranza Animal Rescue are always welcomed. And Guido’s final words to the dog whose side she couldn’t bear to leave are testament to the ethos of the shelter. Love and care, for all animals, always.
“I’m so glad I got to cuddle you and hold you tight last evening,” Guido shared, in a moving tribute to Watson, one dog she will never forget. “I hope you could feel how much I loved you. Even though I only knew you a short while.”
“God speed sweet Watson,” Guido signed off. “It’s not goodbye, just see ya later.”