When Janine Guido first met Watson a few days ago, his expression said everything.
“The first thing I noticed with him was his eyes,” Guido, founder of Speranza Animal Rescue, told The Dodo. “He looked exhausted — like he was ready to give up the fight.”
Watson had been staying at an emergency vet for around-the-clock care after being brought in by a college kid who found him alone in a Philadelphia park last week. He was emaciated and covered in infected sores, and had a large, cancerous tumor on his hind leg.
The cancer, unfortunately, had taken over.
By the time he was transferred to the shelter, it was clear all Watson wanted was someone to sit with him. The only thing they could do at that point was try to keep him comfortable — and Guido did just that.
“I had a gut feeling that things weren’t going to be good the next day,” she said. “I didn’t want to leave him alone. Not when he needed me the most.”
On Wednesday night, Guido gathered up a pile of blankets and dog beds and laid them down in the laundry room at the rescue. She lay down with Watson, put her arms around him and gently talked to him.
He fell right to sleep — and Guido stayed there with him all night.
“He slept like a rock all night, cuddled up to me so tight,” Guido said. “I cried myself to sleep, and woke up in tears as well.”
For the first time in no one knows how long, Watson slept comfortably in the arms of someone who loved him.
When he awoke the next morning, he was even more tired than the day before. He wasn’t eating or drinking, and he started pacing around in circles. He passed away soon after.
Even though Guido didn’t know Watson for very long, the impact he made on her that night is something she’ll never forget.
And after a life of certain neglect, it surely meant a lot to him, too.
“I’m just so thankful I was able to hold him tight for his last night,” Guido said. “I was telling him how much he was loved — and that his life mattered. My heart is breaking, but I would not change a thing.”