It seems like we were fated to have Wesley in our lives, as it took him two tries to stay here. Our first encounter with Wes was in late fall 2004, when we temporarily hosted him while Beagle Paws searched for a new foster family for him. His previous family could not keep him in their apartment; anytime they left him alone to get groceries or even go to the laundry room, he would howl mournfully, disturbing the neighbours. Since the foster family did not have a car and we lived close by, they walked him to our house to see him off. He needed to a home with constant company or another dog, something we could provide for the short term, but not something we were really interested in providing on a longer basis because of April and her alpha dog needs. During his weekend stay, Wesley proved to be a great beagle, but his non-neutered status posed a few interesting situations with April.
Once in a while after that, we would check the Beagle Paws web page to see if Wesley had finally been adopted; he had not. In March 2005, we got a call from Beagle Paws. They needed a more permanent foster home for Wesley, who was now living with an older couple and their dogs and cats. Wesley was now neutered, and we felt he and April could happily co-exist until he found his forever home. We quickly discovered that they could, providing Wesley was not kenneled during the day while we were at work or at night while we tried to sleep. Upon kenneling him, it was the first and only time we could identify that mournful howl that had gotten him moved from his other foster homes. So at night he took his place next to April, right by our feet.
Though we didn’t officially adopt Wesley until December 2005, he was part of our family long before that. Everyone loved the little dog with the sad Eeyore eyes who said very little, did not seek attention but loved receiving it, occasionally said “Arrroooo” to let you know he was there, and sought treats as if he was starving (trust me, he was not). Wesley did suffer from separation anxiety. Shortly after we departed with out suitcases to go on a two-week holiday in 2006, our dog-sitters Chris and Kerry arrived to find long strings of rug trailing from Wesley’s mouth. When extremely anxious, he ate anything he shouldn’t (books, important papers, rugs, clothing, human food, etc.) and was prone to “accidents”. But all blame was absolved when you looked at his face; you could tell that he didn’t mean it, he was just worried that his humans weren’t coming back.
It is hard to pin-point Wesleys age. When he was first listed for adoption in fall 2004, he was thought to be 3-4 years old. When we started fostering him in March 2005, his age had been bumped up to 6-7 years old (which I directly link to his neutering :) ). On our first visit to the vet as Wesley’s owners in January 2006, the doctor estimated that Wesley was about 9-10 years old. In many photos, he has been mistaken for being a young dog because of his expression and enthusiasm (usually because someone is holding a treat in an attempt to get the photo). Before arthritis became a big problem, his jaunty walk was almost puppy-like.
Prior to being rescued by Beagle Paws, Wesley may have had a rough life. We’re not certain, but were told he was found covered in tar when he was taken into Beagle Paws custody. We found this out when getting his medical history for the vet when dealing with a paw puncture that would not stop bleeding. When they shaved him to get rid of the tar, his anxious nature led to a nose bleed that was not easily stopped. The source of the bleed in his paw puncture was thankfully not his anxiety but rather the artery he had nicked, which was treated by a new girlfriend, Dr. Laite. While fixing that, they removed a strange growth on his paw and he spent two weeks poorly maneuvering around the house with a lamp shade collar.
Wesley was no stranger to the vet or the lamp shade collar. He suffered constant annoying ear infections, and upon the recommendation of the vet, had aural reconstructive surgery to remove the bend in his ear canal. This reduced the ear infections, but did not eliminate the need for frequent ear cleanings, with “ear dirt” of the likes we have never seen on April. He also had arthritis, for which we did not seek treatment; a semi-regular glucosamine and lifts on the bed and couch seemed to do the trick.
In May 2007, Wesley quickly became very sick. He stopped eating, started vomiting, and lost all energy. We were very worried. An emergency visit to the vet and some tests showed that his liver function was quite poor. A weekend stay at the vet’s office with IV to boost his fluids did the trick to fix him, but we left armed with a daily vitamin, special food, and a warning to stay clear from commercial treats. In the process, Wesley had found a new girlfriend - his vet, Dr. Wilson.
Despite his health troubles, Wesley enjoyed his quiet life. He became quite animated and pranced around when we returned home from work, if we were heading out for a walk around the street, or when he received one of his special treats (veggie biscuits from the vet’s office). He slipped and slid on the hardwood while trying to stand and eat, or jump off the bed (he could never jump on the bed), or if his nails needed a trim. He enjoyed curling up on the couch or his bed, following us around to see what we were doing, and just being around his people.
Over the last four months of 2008, we noted a decline is Wesley’s health and activity levels. Walks were kept short, and eliminated in colder weather (his hips could not keep up with his desire to get around the street). He stopped going down the patio steps to the backyard, and would spend a lot of time waiting at the corner of the house to come in after a visit to the backyard (instead of at the door) or just staring off into space. He slept a lot more, ate a lot less, and lost weight. His rapid decline over Christmas led to another trip to the vet on January 2, 2009. There we received confirmation that something was wrong - a tumour in his throat that would eventually block his windpipe. Wesley spent his last few weeks enjoying all-day love and attention from all his fan club members on Christmas vacation, and his last few moments pigging out on some “forbidden” treats and quietly cuddling in the arms of the family who loved him. He was about 12 years old.