LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Those who have ever rescued or adopted an animal know how much joy they can bring to your life, and vice versa.
However, older animals tend to get overlooked.
Julie Strong is a wife, mother of three humans (with one on the way) and a shining light for animals in need.
17 dogs, some handicapped bunnies, a 165-pound mini pig, a bunch of cats; there's nothing Strong doesn't take on.
That's where Rita comes in.
Fostering with the Lake Charles Pit Bull Rescue, Strong was met with a challenge.
"We got Rita about two and a half months ago," said Strong. "She was rescued during Irma and she's been living in Renée's kennel area and she has cancer."
After the cancer was removed, the vet said it may come back and due to her age, 13 years old, they wouldn't be able to do anything more.
"So, we decided to take her in as a hospice case and we let her sleep in a people bed and we let her have her run of the house," said Strong. "She got eggs for breakfast and yogurt and she got to go on walks with the kids and we would take her to Petco and have 'Puppachinos'."
Strong says she became a totally different dog and became part of her family, calling Rita her best little girlfriend.
But, she knew it wouldn't be forever.
"We ended up only having about 12 weeks with her before she got dementia and then she totally lost the ability to know what she was doing she started having accidents in the house, she didn't even remember where she was going or what she was doing, and that's when we decided that her quality-of-life was pretty much nonexistent," said Strong.
So they set the date for Rita to cross the rainbow bridge, but not without showing Rita how much they loved her first.
The family took Rita on her on one last adventure. She chomped on chicken nuggets, slurped down "Puppachinos", enjoyed tons of cookie samples and toys at Petco, and of course play time at the park and the beach.
"I never thought that having a dog for such a short amount of time would make us fall in love with her the way that we did, but it sort of reaffirmed that was our family's purpose was to do hospice care because seniors like her deserve a chance," said Strong. "Instead of dying in a shelter, on the cement floor, she got to have love, a people bed, to lay on the couch and to play with kids. So, even though it really stunk to only have her for such a short amount of time, I know that her purpose here was to teach us a lesson and she was very very loved and we had her."
Strong's purpose is now to help other hospice cases and to show people that seniors are well worth the work.
"Give them a chance," said Strong. "They deserve to have a people bed and to have a family just as much as other dogs."
Strong wants to take her new life's mission one step further, by purchasing a five-acre piece of property, in order to take on more special needs and hospice rescues of all shapes and sizes.
Click HERE to donate.
Click HERE to learn more about Lake Charles Pit Bull Rescue.