Animal Rescue of Fresno: King Harold

by Wendy Hunter

Wendy Hunter is a volunteer with the Animal Rescue of Fresno. ARF shares with KRL their animal rescue adventures every month. You can learn more about them on their website.

Let me kiss off that falling tear, We only part to meet again.—John Gay

In this world of uncertainty and too many fudgy brownies, our minds began to wander. I was taking a shower yesterday, and the weather was unseasonably warm. Suddenly, the memories of spending summers at my aunt and uncle’s house in Redding popped into my head. After hours of swimming in the pool, pruning my toes, and sipping margaritas, I’d head upstairs for a cool shower before dinner. There, I gazed out the window, looking over the patio while the others enjoyed Happy Hour. The sun began its lazy set across the pond, while the barbecue was fired up for the juicy deliciousness of chicken on the grill. Ice was tinkling in glasses, laughter floated on the breeze, and the hummingbirds buzzed about. That moment in time is one of my most treasured. Drying off, my skin pink from the sun, soaking up all the sounds and smells of a perfect day. Resting my arms on the window sill, I stared in wonder at a lone white egret, as she sailed magically across the water, searching for a tasty trout. Mmm...

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Perhaps you have memories like these of your own. It could be little Molly’s first day of school, a family vacation to Monterey, or the time you added that special dog to your household. At Animal Rescue of Fresno, we have too many wonderful adoption stories to count. If I may speak for our volunteers, I think it’s safe to say that “Harold” would be on our Top 10 list. Harold the Mighty, Harold the Wonderdog, Harold the Titan of the Lolling Tongue. This old man is your basic model Chihuahua; a bit pudgy, low to the ground, bulging eyes, and pointy ears. He was adopted around Thanksgiving of 2012, by our great friend, Kelly, who has rescued senior dogs in the past. I don’t know if it was love at first sight, but I’m pretty sure this little curmudgeon saw one tall, blonde, babe and said to himself, “I AM SO OUTTA HERE!” So with his head held high, Harold strutted out of ARF and into a new blanket-filled home...oh, the blankets.
Harold was technically the “blanket thief” at ARF, stealing and burying blankets from the other dogs. Don’t give me that side-eye Harold, I have the video. He was already twelve when Kelly adopted him, which in my mind, is something astounding. It’s hard enough to get dogs that are 8-10 years old adopted, much less 12 and up. Kelly says that Harold’s first few weeks at home were fine, he just had to be potty trained. Kelly already had some female dogs, so I wondered how Harold fit into that dynamic, being the only male in the household. She replied, “Pretty good because he would just warn them if they bothered him too much. Ha! No, my girls were already old, so he only gave them a warning if they went for his stash of brand new toys.” Oh Harold, that’s not very chivalrous. And since it was during winter, Harold was pretty standoffish, and remained chilled-out in a giant swath of blankets. Again, with the blankets…

Harold has been through a few health issues, including a hernia, and eye removal. He coughed for so long, the vet thought he had congestive heart failure. It just turned out to be allergies, so Kelly started washing all the dog beds and blankets with a hypoallergenic detergent. Nothing seems to slow Harold down, and he is quite the nomad. He particularly enjoys traveling to Pismo, where he suns on a beachfront balcony. And just for fun, he squeezes his little tushy through the bars, meandering down to the neighbors for a visit, until he’s returned to Kelly. I guess that’s one way to meet new friends. Speaking of which, whenever we have an ARF event, Harold is always the star of the show. Not just for his wardrobe, but for his ability to charm strangers, as well as old friends. I’m guilty of some bad behavior whenever they show up, as I unabashedly run out yelling, HAROLD! I have no shame. Kelly says, “I think it’s wonderful that everybody at ARF has such a big heart for the senior dogs.” Meanwhile, the other ARF critters are thinking, “Geez, you’d think he was George Clooney or something.”

I asked Kelly if Harold gets the same reaction out in public, as he does at our events. She said, “Yes he does. Just the other day, he was in the car with me at the Ride and Shine. They stopped the car wash so I could roll down the window and let them see him. Ha, ha.” Since Harold is the Calvin Klein of the dog world, I wanted to know more about his crazy collection of clothes. I was particularly curious about the front loading knapsack Kelly was wearing at an event, where it was raining (pardon the pun) like cats and dogs. You could see Harold snuggled inside the sack, nice and dry, viewing the outside world. Kelly explains, “Yes, he has a lot of cool clothes: Xmas, Halloween, Easter and St. Patrick’s Day. I especially like the front sack where he can look out. Mom got me that one, so Harold could still go on hikes with me, but still have a seat for when he gets too tired. Those stubby legs can only go so far!”
Harold and Kelly

Many elderly dogs have little or no teeth, which is the case with Harold. Kelly serves him Nature’s Recipe, adding some hot water to mush it up. Delish! As an ARF volunteer, I have a soft spot for the senior dogs. Last weekend, a lovely couple adopted a spunky, fourteen-year-old dog from us. Relaying the story to an acquaintance, they asked me, “What are they going to DO with that dog?” I put on my what-the-ding-dang-is-wrong-with-you face, and calmly walked away. Crikey. Since Harold is nineteen-years-old, I asked Kelly what she thought accounted for his longevity. Her reply was simple, “I think he is truly a tough dude. Good dog food and regular vet visits.” And maybe some blankets? And when I pondered why senior dogs are such amazing companions, Kelly nailed the answer, “Well, they just chill.” If only we could get humans to do the same thing.

After some recent surgery, ARF was devastated to learn that Harold has a very aggressive form of cancer. I asked Kelly if Harold would let her know when it was his time. She said, “Maybe not because he is really tough. I will have to watch him closely for changes in his demeanor.” I asked Kelly if she thought her unconditional love was the main reason Harold was still with us. She responded, “Yes I do. Love and just to let him be a dog and have as many beds, blankets, and toys as he wants. Since Kelly has had Harold for so long, I wondered if she had any advice about treating an older dog, who may not benefit from extensive medical care due to their health/age? Kelly replied, “Just make sure your dog is put to sleep before the pain sets in. Watch the dog for signs of distress. If your dog is showing signs of pain, it’s about ten times more pain than humans would have.” People, tune into your pets.

For now, Harold is doing fine and hanging out at home. When the day finally does come, I wanted to know what Kelly would say to him before he crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. Kelly says her message to Harold will be, “Goodnight, buddy, glad you finally got to cruise around your own yard, on your own time, with your own rules.” Kelly, all of us at Animal Rescue of Fresno would like to thank you for taking in our delightful Harold, and giving him a forever home. He is such a sweetheart, and we all love him very much. Harold, you’ll always be the King.

If I had a single flower for every time I think of you, I could walk forever in my garden.
—Claudia Adrienne Grandi

Animal Rescue of Fresno is located at 4545 E Dakota in Fresno, CA.

Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section on Kings River Life, and the Pets section here on KRL News & Reviews. Check back every month for another animal rescue adventure from ARF. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to a local animal rescue. Learn more about ARF on their website.

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Wendy Hunter has been volunteering with ARF for four years. She grew up in Fresno and recently became an Office Assistant with Fresno County. She has been writing all of her life, though never professionally, and currently writes personalized poetry for birthdays, weddings, pet remembrances, etc.