Afflicted with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (also known as ALS,) John Weston found great comfort and joy in his rescue dog Pawpaw. As his illness progressed, he faced the reality that he would need to rehome his best friend.
Weston’s neighbor Sherri Franklin is the founder and CEO of Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. Three years earlier, she had placed Pawpaw with him and promised to help if Weston’s health issues made caring for the dog difficult. Now that time had come.
Franklin told TODAY:
“I really wanted John to be taken care of and his feelings to really be taken into consideration. It was just this overwhelming sense of duty to do this for him.”
Waiting For The Perfect Home For PawPaw
Muttville put out a call for potential adopters for Pawpaw, but with the condition that they must meet John first. The social posts emphasized how important this dog was to Weston:
“John and Pawpaw are constant companions. PawPaw is always next to John and he sleeps on his dog bed right next to John’s bed. We all agree that PawPaw has extended John’s life and improved his quality of life too!”
Los Angeles resident Bernie Knobbe happened to be in San Francisco for work that week. He and his husband Tim Belavich had seen the social media posts about John and Pawpaw and already had experience rescuing senior dogs.
So, Knobbe went to meet Pawpaw and Weston. As Knobbe played on the floor with the then 13-year-old dog, Weston asked a caregiver to summon him to his bedside. Knobbe described the scene:
“John put his hand on my arm and he just said, ‘You’re a good guy. This is good.’ It was emotional. Everybody was crying in the room. It was obviously meant to be.”
Three days later, Weston passed away. Franklin believes he held on until he could see Pawpaw go to the perfect new home. Franklin put it:
“I think he met the right person and he could finally let go. John left this world happier.”
Pawpaw’s New Family
Pawpaw has now spent a few years with his perfect new family. His new dads love rescuing dogs, and Pawpaw joined two other dogs also rescued from Muttville named Henry and Ella.
Five weeks after they adopted him, Pawpaw was diagnosed with megaesophagus, a disorder of the esophagus in which it dilates and loses its ability to move food into the stomach.
Now at meal times, Pawpaw backs into his personal Bailey chair. The chair keeps him upright to allow food to go down. Knobbe jokingly told TODAY:
“He looks like he’s at a bar ordering a drink, like it’s happy hour all the time. He just sits with his paws on the thing as if to say, ‘OK, bring it on.’”
Check out the sweet video of Pawpaw looking forward to his meal:
The Rewards Of Adopting A Senior Dog
Even though Pawpaw’s medical needs add some challenges to their lives, the couple regrets nothing about adopting him. Belavich explained:
“We say Pawpaw spent a lot of his life taking care of others. So now it’s time for Pawpaw to be taken care of.”
Beyond the pleasure of giving back, Knobbe emphasized that senior dogs bring so much joy to their parents’ lives, regardless of their age.
“Just because a senior dog has a health risk or a health issue doesn’t mean that they can’t bring tremendous joy and love to your life. In the morning I always say to Pawpaw, ‘I just hope that John’s happy with how we’re handling you.’ And you just look in his eyes and you know that he’s happy to be here. So we’re very blessed that way.”
Learn more about all the reasons adopting a senior dog is the best.