Spunky, the 12-year-old dog, had been adopted by Ashley Niels when she was in college in Wisconsin, reports The Dodo. The two loved living in the snow – Spunky especially loved playing in it and eating it!
In 2008 the paid moved to Austin, Texas, where Niels works as a behaviour and enrichment specialist at Austin Animal Center, the local shelter. There is significantly less snowfall in Texas and Niels had promised Spunky that one day he'd see the snow again.
However, on Thursday last week, something changed in the pup. He didn't eat his breakfast. Niels told The Dodo:
He always inhales his food so I knew something was off.
Her nightmare came true after a trip to the vet – the dog had hemangiosarcoma, a type of cancer, and even chemotherapy or surgery wouldn't help for the internal bleeding. The vet suggested scheduling an appointment to put him to sleep the next day, so he wouldn't suffer.
But something told Niels not to end Spunky's life just yet… She had one more promise to fulfil before she said goodbye to her best friend. She explained:
The prospect of breaking that promise to him sent me into a panic.
A group of staff and volunteers from the Austin Animal Shelter had the greatest idea – they all pitched in to rent a snow machine and took it over to Niels' house so Spunky could play in the snow one last time. It was a real group effort to grant this dying dog's last wish. Niels said:
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.
Posted by Ashley Niels on Friday, 16 September 2016
The snow machine was taken to the shelter and the other dogs got to play in a snowstorm, too!
As difficult as it is to accept that her dog is dying, Niels is doing her best to make the most of his last days.
I've been doing everything I can to spoil him and give him all the love and affection he can stand.
It's a good day when the whole community gets together to help a human deliver on an unbreakable promise to her four-legged friend.