'Making it snow' for a dying dog

A dog owner went the extra mile to make her dying dog Spunky happy by making him see ‘snow’ for the last time in the middle of a Texas summer.

Photo by: Ashley Niels
Photo by: Ashley Niels

Ashley Niels posing with her do Spunky. Image: Ashley Niels.

Dog owner Ashley Niels was devastated the day she learned her beloved dog of many years Spunky was dying.

Spunky was a healthy and vivacious 12-year-old dog.  

However, one day Niels noticed he wasn’t his usual lively self.

He wasn’t jumping up and down the stairs like he normally would.

On a Thursday morning, Spunky didn’t want to eat his breakfast.

This is when Niels definitely knew something was wrong.

In an interview with animal lovers website, The Dodo, she said Spunky "always inhales his food so I knew something was off.’’

So she decided to take him to the vet to figure out the cause of the problem.

It was then that Niels learned Spunky had hemangiosarcoma, a form of cancer, and that he was bleeding internally.

There was no solution.

Chemotherapy and surgery wouldn’t help.

Niels explains that the vet suggested she schedule an appointment to put him to sleep so that the dog won’t have to suffer.  

Niels decided to schedule the appointment for the next evening.

It was at that moment she suddenly recalled a promise she had made her winter-loving dog... that he would get to see snow once again.

"The prospect of breaking that promise to him sent me into a panic," Niels says.

Spunky is originally from Wisconsin - where it snows heavily and regularly during the winter.

"He is a total snow dog and could play in snow drifts for hours and be just fine," Niels says.

"He loves snow, playing in it and eating it!"

Niels adopted him from a local shelter while she was in college, where the pair happily lived together for four years.

Ashley Niels posing with her dog Spunky. Image: Ashley Niels.

In 2008, the pair moved to Austin, Texas, where Niels works as a behaviour and enrichment specialist at Austin Animal Center, the city shelter for animals.

Austin has been pretty snow-less in recent years, except for the occasional few flakes, according to Niels.

Summer in Austin would make it all the more impossible to spot some snowflakes.

So in a bid to help fulfil Niels’ promise to Spunky, a group of volunteers and staff at Austin Animal Center chipped in to rent a snow machine.

They brought it to Niels’ house so Spunky could enjoy some artificial snow in his very own yard in the middle of summer.

Ashley Niels posing with her dog Spunky in the snow. Image: Ashley Niels.

"To be honest, I think Spunky mostly sat there in the blowing 'snow' to humour me and make me happy," says Niels.

"But the real beauty behind the whole thing was how this entire village enveloped us in love, and pulled all of this together in hours so that I could give my boy a last wish, if you will. I can't tell you how touched I was."

"How beautiful is it that a group of people made it snow in the Texas summer?" she says.

"All for the love of a dog. My dog. My Spunky." 

The vet had to cancel on Friday evening due to an emergency so Spunky's appointment had to be rescheduled for the next morning.

But Niels didn’t have the heart to go through with it.

Spunky the dog playing with his friend Merlin the cat. Image: Ashley Niels.

Spunky seemed happy, and "I didn't want to take that away from him," she explains.

And he's been that way ever since. So they have a few more days to spend together for now.

"And we've also just been spending a whole lot of quality time with him. Laying with him, doting on him, constant kisses and pictures," Niels says.

"I've been doing everything I can to spoil him and give him all the love and affection he can stand."

Niels is not sure how much more time she has with Spunky.

She prays for a miracle. However, she feels grateful for the precious time she has had with him. 

TRTWorld and agencies