It was snowing in Texas in September. The reason? A 12-year-old pup named Spunky.
Ashley Niels knew there was something wrong with her beloved dog when he wasn’t eating and acting like his normal energetic self.
Two weeks ago, Spunky was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma, a type of cancer that was causing internal bleeding – meaning chemo or surgery weren’t on the table. Spunky’s vet recommended that Niels make an appointment to have the dog put to sleep as soon as possible, so he wouldn’t suffer.
With the appointment booked for the very next evening, Niels suddenly remembered a promise she had made to her dog upon moving to Texas years before – she had told winter-loving, Wisconsin-native Spunky that he would, one day, see snow again.
“The prospect of breaking that promise to him sent me into a panic,” Niels told the Dodo.
That’s when her friends and community in Austin, Texas stepped in.
Volunteers and staff at the Austin Animal Center – where Niels works as a behavior and enrichment specialist – came together to rent a snow machine, and brought it to Niels’ house so Spunky could enjoy one last snow fall.
“To be honest, I think Spunky mostly sat there in the blowing ‘snow’ to humor me and make me happy,” 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.”
The group then brought the machine back to the AAC so the dogs in the shelter there could also enjoy the snow.
When the day came for Spunky’s appointment to be put to sleep, Niels said he seemed too happy for her to go through with it. She’s waiting a few days to reschedule, since Spunky’s spirits seem to be high.
Niels’ father has come from Chicago and her girlfriend is staying home from work, for the family’s final days together.
“I’ve been doing everything I can to spoil him and give him all the love and affection he can stand,” she said.
All photos courtesy Ashley Niels/The Dodo