Little Helga came into a big shelter as a “stray”, a matted emaciated mess of a Shih Tzu who could barely see and was definitely deaf. We gave her a bath, started trimming hair and mats – she’d been groomed not all that long ago, so had been someone’s dog – and went to the vet to assess the damage. She was in advanced kidney failure, was unspayed with a very large mammary tumor (SO common in unspayed seniors), had badly disintegrating discs so she staggered a bit as she walked, had terrible dental disease and infected ears, and of course had nearly mature cataracts so just a little vision. Wow. Poor Helga had been so traumatized by what she’d gone through, perhaps before being dumped out and certainly in the busy shelter. For the first 3 days she paced around the house in distress, but then started to relax as she learned the routine and began feeling better. Accidents stopped, she began to share a lap on occasion, she ate very well and medications helped. On the 16th day, she started to cough and soon collapsed. The breast cancer had no doubt metastasized to her lungs, and when she finally relaxed enough to not fight it the symptoms overcame her will to go on. We said goodbye with regrets that we couldn’t have had her longer, but gratitude that she graced our lives and died knowing she was loved and safe with friends around her. One more unnecessary death: PLEASE spay and neuter your dogs, it can save their lives.