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Widow adopts a dog to fill a special place in her heart

By Joe Elmore


Irene and Donald. Image provided.


When someone loses their significant other, sadness and loneliness follow close behind. One of our most meaningful adoption stories involved Irene Holland, who had moved to Charleston to be near family after losing her husband. As you will read below, Irene channeled her feelings into finding a new companion, but this time he had four legs — and he was blind.


This is the month for valentines and sweethearts — so we hope you are holding yours close this February. And if you can find it in your heart to make room for one more, please visit us at Charleston Animal Society, located at 2455 Remount Rd. in North Charleston. You never know who’s waiting here to meet you.


Below is Irene’s story.


If anyone had told me I would be in love for the second time in my life at 83 years young, I would have disagreed. After I moved to Charleston in June 2017 as a widow to be closer to family, I knew I needed to find a companion; I found myself talking to myself most of the time. I told all of my friends that I was looking for a dog. My criteria were pretty simple — I didn’t want a small dog that I might trip over, but also not a huge dog that could pull me over when leash walking. But I knew I wanted an adult dog.


Late last spring, I was playing bridge and had just eaten lunch when my daughter called me about a dog she thought would be perfect for me. She was at Charleston Animal Society and had met “Stormy.” He was a medium-sized senior poodle with a patch of gray here and there, an incredibly friendly personality — and he was completely blind. I got so excited I left my credit card at the restaurant and took off in the pouring rain to go meet Stormy at the shelter.


When I arrived, I knew it was meant to be. Here was this timid black dog who had been found out in the rain several days before. His microchip wasn’t registered but he was neutered. And on top of the blindness, he was heartworm positive and way too skinny. The shelter said he was about ten years old. I fell in love instantly and knew this would be my buddy. But the name Stormy just didn’t fit — so I renamed him Donald.


Going through the adoption process could not have been easier. It took only a couple days for Donald to walk around the furniture in my home and not bump into anything. He has great hearing and a terrific sense of smell, and he knows where I am by sound. He walks well on a leash and needs very little guidance not to bump into trees or benches on walks.


All my life my dogs have been family dogs, shared with husband and children, but this time Donald is mine — all mine! As a senior lady, I highly recommend adopting a senior animal. No furniture chewing, and as I’ve learned, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Donald learned to sit, stay and stop (when I find him heading toward a danger while leash walking).


Charleston Animal Society has my thanks for saving senior, disabled dogs like Donald. I may have been alone before, but Donald has filled the hole I had in my heart and even though he doesn’t answer back, I now have someone to talk to anytime I want.


To watch a video about Irene and Donald's story, visit https://youtu.be/3nXj3cW-zUo



Joe Elmore is executive director of the Charleston Animal Society.



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