Animal shelter workers don't always have it easy. Sometimes when a person dies and leaves behind an aging pet, they're forced to watch as the dog mourns the loss of its owner and has its entire world ripped out from under it.
The pet essentially goes from being loved and cared for, and having someone to love and care for it, to being kept in a cage to be forgotten.
Twelve-year-old Prinny faced this reality when her owner died. The woman's son was a soldier in Australia, deployed to Iraq. He didn't want to give the dog up, but due to the nature of his military service, had to, with no one else in the family that could take Prinny for her twilight years.
When the soldier surrendered the dog to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), he seemed anguished at having to release Prinny.
Prinny spent two months in RSPCA care before being turned over to a Melbourne shelter specializing in the rehoming of small dogs, called Rescued with Love.
The animal shelter group's founder, Kae Norman, read the soldier's papers of surrender and decided that she had to let the soldier know his dog was safe and had found a loving new home.
Here's the open letter via the group's Facebook page. (Open because they had no way of contacting the soldier.) Ready the tissues.
"Dear Soldier, you don't know me, but I know of you. I know you were heading to Darwin and then being deployed to Iraq. You are probably going through more than what anyone can ever imagine – and I wanted to ease your mind by letting you know your Mum's dog Prinny is safe and happy with us at Rescued With Love."Since that letter was posted, the animal shelter has managed to locate the soldier and stated that "knowing Prinny is safe and loved has given him a huge sense of peace."
"I know your Mum passed away and I am so sorry for your loss. Losing parents is hell, and to have to give up Prinny and surrender her to the RSPCA because you had no option would have been an unbearable burden."
"I read your surrender form which came with her paperwork, and my heart broke for you, for Prinny and for your Mum. You wrote such beautiful things about Prinny, and what a gorgeous girl she is. You were right, she certainly is."
"We know Prinny is 12 years and 4 months – and it is not easy to rehome a dog that age, I guess you know that, and thought you would give her a chance anyway. The RSPCA did their best, and she was with them for ages – and then a phone call from a kind lady found Prinny on her way to us – and I want to tell you about her new home. If it's ok, I want to tell you a little about that."
"Prinny was adopted before she even came to us, because her foster Dad Brendan is a Veteran."
"He heard about Prinny's predicament – and wanted to step up regardless. I asked he and his wife to just wait and foster her – but it seems I didn't need to be cautious at all. Prinny has fallen in love with her Dad, and he with her, and they are now inseparable, and very very loved."
"I don't know where you are, or how to find you to tell you Prinny is safe. Maybe this will find you. All I know is my throat ached when I read your writing on that form when you handed her over – and I could not try to let you know she is safe, and very happy. Stay safe soldier."
"Kind regards, Kae Norman, Founder, Rescued With Love Inc."
Here are some pics -- also from the animal shelter Facebook page -- showing Prinny with her new owner.
Animal shelter workers still face a shortage of homes for aging pets. Would you ever consider adopting a late-in-life dog or cat?