Liz Fegan has been many things: a mother, wife, career woman, church official and the most sought-after bridge partner in her social circle. But the years have taken their toll, as Liz has endured the death of her husband and closest friends. "I stopped driving five years ago, and there's only so often you can ask friends to take you places before you start to feel like a bother," Liz, 84, from Rohnert Park, CA, says. Gradually, Liz withdrew from her few remaining bridge dates, stopped going for walks and settled in front of the TV at her retirement community. "The more I was by myself, the more I didn't want to see people. I was dwelling on negative things. It's not good for anyone to be alone that much," she says.
Liz's daughter Beth, 57, and Beth's sisters were worried that their mother was fading. So when Liz started talking about getting a pet, they agreed that it might give her a sense of purpose again. But the dog had to be just right: small enough to fit in her lap, but not so small as to get underfoot and cause Liz to fall. It also had to be house-trained and not too active or excitable. The logical answer? A senior dog, who would have a compatible energy level and enjoy leisurely walks with Liz and taking long naps.
Beth was visiting a senior dog rescue in San Francisco called Muttville when a volunteer carried in a 10-year-old white miniature poodle, who had been badly neglected before being rescued. Instantly she knew that he was the one. Beth named the sweet-tempered dog Charlie Bear and took him home to groom his matted coat.
"I could tell immediately that this little dog holds no grudges. He's just so grateful to have a warm bed, food and water." Beth was tempted to keep him for herself, but when Liz called to ask about the dog, she knew her mom needed Charlie more than she did. "It was the first time I heard any enthusiasm in her voice in months," she recalls.
As soon as Liz met the dog, she was in love. "Charlie has been good for me. He pulls me out of my own head and he gets me out of the house." Charlie and Liz go on regular walks, and he gives her a reason to stop and chat with neighbors, which helps Liz feel connected. "Charlie's such an amazing little dog. He has survived so much, and he has a huge heart. He's family," she says
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