Melani Andrews lives in Galt, California. She is 72 years old, and while she has seen a lot of life, the past few years have been particularly hard.
Recent years have brought her two devastating blows. Two long-term presences were severed from her life. However, she is definitely not one to lie down and give up. She found a way to navigate the rocky road and found a new friend along the way.
Click ‘Next’ and know how this grandmother find friendship with a dog.
Her Other Half
Melani’s husband passed away in January of 2016. His passing left her, understandably, depressed and lonely.
Thankfully, after his passing, Melani Andrews still had the company of their beloved Staffordshire terrier, Lola. Lola was a great source of comfort to the grieving widow.
Her Pupper Half
Little did Andrews know, she would suffer another great loss just over a year later. Lola, her four-legged friend, passed away in February of 2017.
After the second loss, Andrews was devastated. Her husband and her beloved dog were both gone leaving her alone and lonely.
In an interview with The Dodo, Melani Andrews describes her emotional state. “I was feeling down and a little depressed,” she told them.
Visits from family and friends provided some comfort, but when they went home, she was still alone in her house. That only left Andrews feeling more alone. It bothered her grandchildren that she was so depressed.
Thos Good Ole Grandkids
“My grandkids came over one night,” Melani recalls, “and they said, ‘Grandma, you need somebody to keep you company. You can’t just sit around here all by yourself.”
The more she thought about it, the more she agreed. She was lonely, and it was definitely causing her to become more depressed. Her grandchildren were right. She needed company.
Melani realized her grandchildren were right. She needed company. She missed her husband and her Staffordshire terrier.
She realized the best possible friend for her would be one that needed her as much as she needed them. She decided she wanted to share her life with another dog.
Finding a New Friend
Melani soon headed to Sacramento’s Front Street Animal Shelter (FSAS) in order to find a pet to keep her company.
“I wanted to help somebody – a dog – like Lola helped us,” Andrews told The Dodo. While her main motive was company, she had also hatched another plan, one that is good for the soul.
The shelter offers many services to their community, in addition to pet adoptions. They offer a rabies vaccination clinic for all pets and help educate their community on the best ways to deal with common issues associated with pets.
If you find yourself in the Sacramento area and in need of a fur-ever friend, the shelter is the perfect place to start looking. They have dogs, cats, and the occasional small pet.
Doggie Day Out
The shelter even has a program where you can take a dog out on “date”. Want a jogging buddy? They have one! Want a couch potato to binge watch movies with? They have one of those too! They can even spend the night with you!
Who knows? You might even find your new best friend through the program. If you are in the Sacramento area and want a dog for a day or two, stop by and ask to borrow a dog!
While she wanted a pet and craved having the company, Melani also had another mission in mind. She decided that she wanted to care for an animal that was in need of some extra love.
“I told them I wanted the oldest dog they had,” Andrews said. “The one that everybody was passing up, and [said] that I wanted to adopt him.” She wanted to make the end of the dog’s life as happy as possible.
A Lot Of Love
“I don’t care if he’s sick. I don’t care if the shelter can help with bills. I don’t have a lot of money, but I’m sure I have enough to take care of a little dog,” Melani told the staff of the shelter.
The Front Street Animal Shelter employees then took her to meet three possible dogs. Two of the elderly dogs paid her no attention. The third, however, howled upon her arrival.
Jake was a grand 12 years old. He was a small terrier who had spent a fair amount of time being a stray before he was taken to the shelter. He had also spent a fair amount of time at the shelter.
Jake had been passed over by many potential families. In addition to his advanced age, he was also deaf, partially blind, and had been diagnosed with terminal skin cancer.
Jake had been dealt a pretty rough hand.
Skin Cancer in Dogs
Jake’s biggest problem was certainly his skin cancer. Dogs are susceptible to several different types of skin cancer because just like us they have places on their skin that is exposed to the sun.
Dogs can most commonly develop malignant melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and mast cell tumors. Treatment depends on the type and location of the cancer.
Preventing Skin Cancer in Dogs
Just like in humans, dogs can have genetic factors that put them at a higher risk. But, while some cancers are a product of genetic predispositions, there are some risk factors we are able to control.
If your dog is short-haired or light skinned, limiting their sun exposure during the brightest part of the day will go a long way towards helping prevent skin cancer.
Not A Problem
Andrews was not put off by all of these things, quite the contrary. The small, howling dog had touched her heart.
“So I said, ‘It looks like he wants to go, and I’ll take him,’” she told the FSAS staff. That was that. The small dog had stolen her heart, there was nothing left to do but take him home and love him.
The shelter’s PR coordinator, Bobby Man, spoke to The Dodo about the staff’s emotions when Jake finally found a home. Jake had spent many months at the shelter, much longer than most of the dogs.
“It was amazing because she was one of the few people who actually gave this dog an opportunity,” Mann said. “And you could just tell from that picture of how excited that dog was to have an opportunity to get out of the shelter.”
Jake And Melani
“He was one of our longest-standing residents. We were hoping that someone like her would come along and give him the life that he deserved,” Mann said.
Melani was the perfect person to give Jake the life he deserved. Despite his limited time with her, she intended to give him the best life possible and more love than the little dog would know what to do with.
“I thought, ‘We’re going to make his time as good as we can make it. He laid his head in my right hand, and I drove with my left hand,” Andrews recalled. The two connected incredibly quickly. The little dog was clearly happy with his new person.
Jake wasn’t the only one pleased with his new lease on life. Andrews told The Dodo, “Every day I laugh a little bit more. It’s not so lonesome. I think [Jake] knows that I love him.”
Your Dog Knows You Love Them
It turns out that Melani was exactly right when she assumed that Jake knew he was loved. In an interview with People magazine, Dr. Brian Hare, a canine cognition expert assures us that they understand.
When you pet your dog or play with them, their oxytocin levels get a boost. Oxytocin is the hormone that makes you feel happy.
In your own brain, the love you bestow on your dog resembles that of what you would bestow on a newborn. When you stare at your dog lovingly, your own oxytocin levels rise.
Dogs also have their oxytocin levels raised by staring at you, just as they would if you were actively playing with them or petting them. Ever catch your dog staring at you? Its because you make them happy. Your dog very much understands that they are loved.
Melani Andrews so found herself wrapped around Jake’s little paws. She did her best to care for the elderly pup and give him a happy life.
“He’ll come over to me, and he’ll rub up against me and ask me to rub his backside,” said Andrews. “And then he’ll nose me with his nose. And a dog that doesn’t know that somebody loves him wouldn’t be doing anything like that.”
His Best Life
Jake had a lot going on. His skin cancer, partial blindness, complete deafness, and advanced age meant he would need a lot of extra attention.
Melani went above and beyond for the senior dog. She gave him coconut baths to help ease the irritation of his skin condition. She even warmed his water so it wouldn’t hurt his sensitive teeth.
Worth The Extra Effort
Melani sought out other opinions for treatment of Jake’s skin cancer, but it was, heartbreakingly, untreatable. She did, however, work side by side with the veterinarian to come up with a diet and exercise plan for him.
The two buddies spent time together working on obedience, and Melani even taught him to ring a bell when he needed to go outside. He was incredibly intelligent and wanted to please his new owner.
Above All Else
Andrews did so much for the little dog, but it is easy to pinpoint the most important thing she did: she loved him. The love was the most joyful part for Andrews and, undoubtedly, Jake as well.
“The way he’s taken a turn around here, I may end up having him for a year,” Melani commented about the happy dog. “Maybe two if I’m really lucky. But when he goes, I’ll know he went happy.”
Sadly, the day came all too soon. Jake lived for 3 months after Melani Andrews adopted him, passing away in November of 2017.
He passed away after having 3 happy months of life with his rescuer. Melani gave him the best life he could hope for and so very much love. Jake may have had a rough life, but the last few months of his life was spent in happiness and love.
Melani will never forget the sweet little dog that brought her so much happiness in her time of loneliness. She misses him greatly.
Today she shares her life with another dog named Maddie. Melani has a lot of love and she is on a mission to use it for the greater good.
Friends of Front Street Shelter, Inc.
In addition to all the services offered by the Front Street Animal Shelter, they also have a nonprofit dedicated to helping animals like Jake find good homes.
The nonprofit is funded exclusively by public donations. Their efforts go to funding spay and neuter programs, transportation to rescue groups for dogs, extra veterinary expenses for shelter animals, and much more.
A Side Story
Jake isn’t the only dog changing people’s lives for the better. Mookie was adopted from FSAS as well. He joined his family 14 years ago after the death of a beloved dog. The new owners were hesitant to adopt a new dog. But it seems they found the perfect one.
His new owner wrote to the shelter, “Words can’t express how Mookie has changed our lives. He’s 15 years old now and although he’s gotten a little slower, he is still the best dog anyone could ask for. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Front Street…you guys have changed our lives for the better.
An Extra Helping of Love
Barley had a rough start at the shelter. He was captured with the loop and was terrified of everything. He was even labeled aggressive. When his new family went to see him, they had to do so with him wearing a cone.
Barley’s new family also wrote to the shelter. “He is so sweet and brings tremendous happiness to my family!” they wrote. FSAS is certainly in the business of making people happy.
If you need a new family member and are in the Sacramento area, it is definitely a good idea to stop by the Front Street Animal Shelter or one of their many functions.
If you aren’t close to the Front Street Animal Shelter then you should check out your local shelter to see what services and programs they offer and make sure to look at all the lovely pets waiting on their forever homes! You may just find your new best friend.