It is with a heavy heart we share with you that we had to say goodbye to our beloved Norman last week. Norman was a sweet senior dog who lived a tragic life before being rescued by a good Samaritan with help from two rescues (one of which was FIDO) and adopted by our loving friend and fellow animal advocate Susan Niehoff. Susan was Norman's proper caregiver and his final guardian, but we feel the loss as if he were our own.
He loved going for rides in the car.
Many of you will remember the story of Norman, a dog who was dumped in a parking lot, so starved, dehydrated and sickened by fleas that he couldn't walk. He had been kicked, abused, neglected and ignored. Untreated ear infections had left him without hearing.
When Norman first came into Susan's home, he was extremely frightened and timid. After several weeks of gaining his confidence, Norman finally allowed Susan to touch him. Over time his trust in humans grew, nurtured by Susan's gentle, quiet, and loving touch (and several small 4-legged step-siblings who helped show him the ropes). Even though Norman was deaf, he always knew when Susan arrived home and was at the door to greet her and offer occasional snuggles on her legs.
Being a good boy for his bath and grooming.
Norman was a gentle old soul who would sit tranquilly while children pet and cuddled him. He only barked when he thought his dinner was taking too long, or when Susan arrived home later than usual, in which case he would "scold" her for making him wait.
Norman was also very tolerant of the toy-size siblings (also rescue dogs) that he lived with. Every once in a while one of the other dogs would play rough or bump him, provoking a small growl from Norman. However, one special young neurologically challenged dog, Ellie, formed a special bond with him. Ellie had visual and balance disorders, causing her to run erratically forward and backward. When Ellie would bump into Norman, he never made a peep. He became her big brother-protector and she would often seek refuge by standing underneath him. They had a clear, unspoken friendship. When he passed, Ellie searched for him for days.
Norman loved going for walks in the neighborhood and to the pet store. He loved seeing people! He loved riding in the car, getting doggy treats, and he especially loved peanut butter. He had a curious habit of stopping in the hallway to look at himself in the full-length mirror.
But more than anything, he loved Susan. He loved being in the backyard with her while she worked in the garden. He would lie in the shade and relax, but never let Susan out of his sight. If she moved, he moved, so that he would always be able to see her.
Norman continued to decline in health during the year and a half that he lived with Susan. Both his age and his difficult past led to hip and back problems, and he eventually required the assistance of a doggy wheel cart, and then a sling.
It was on Saturday morning, February 1, Susan said, he looked up at her with eyes that conveyed his weariness, and she knew it was time. She took Norman to Crestview Animal Hospital, where he had so many supporters and caregivers after his rescue, and she was with him when he was humanely euthanized.
He loved his tennis ball even though he wasn't sure what to do with it.
It is Susan's hope that the story of Norman and the atrocities he endured for so many years will serve as a reminder to us all that animal cruelty is not an isolated event. It happens far too often. People need to be aware of the signs and know who to call for help. In addition, there is a need for people to open their homes to pets with special needs, a designation that can refer to a wide variety of conditions.
We are so grateful to Susan for giving this sweet boy a home and ensuring that his final days were ones of peace, love, comfort and companionship.
When his legs were hurting too much, he enjoyed his walks in a