An Abandoned Senior Dog Becomes a Hospice Foster Then a Family Member

Eva the Cane Corso thrives in her new home, which is taking years off her estimated age of 13.

Pamela Mitchell  |  Nov 10th 2014


Eva was not expected to live long. When found tied to a post in an abandoned Philadelphia lot last March, the Cane Corso weighed just 63 pounds, making her more than 20 pounds underweight for the breed. A veterinarian at the Pennsylvania SPCA estimated her age at 13; these dogs have an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years. She also had difficulty walking because of severe degenerative arthritis. The shelter made her available as a hospice foster.

Turns out, all Eva needed to hold on was a loving home.

“She is amazing,” says Jenny Hughes, who along with fiancé Danny Lang have given the dog such an environment in which to thrive. “She is a warrior.”

Hughes first learned of Eva through Susie’s Senior Dogs, which had profiled her for City of Elderly Love Rescue, an organization that helps get older animals out of shelters and into foster or forever homes. The couple had just lost their beloved cat Huggies at the age of 17 and wasn’t necessarily looking to expand the family, which also includes Gráinne, a six-year-old Tree Walking Coonhound they foster failed with two years ago, and KC the cat, also 17.

“I saw her picture online and just felt like I needed Eva in my life,” says Hughes, who also knew her skills as a vet tech would benefit the arthritic senior dog. “I reached out and asked to foster.”

The organizations involved jumped at her offer. In mid-April, Hughes, Lang, and Gráinne drove an hour south from Doylestown, where they live, to the PSPCA in Philadelphia.

“I fell for Eva,” recalls Hughes of the meeting. “It didn’t matter what we would have to do or how little time we would have, I just wanted to help her comfortably transition into the next world.”

Two days later, they welcomed Eva into their home and began the process of making her as happy and healthy as possible.

“Her self-esteem was pretty low at first,” says Hughes. “We gave her an orthopedic bed, but she would only sleep on her blanket on the floor. So we put egg crates underneath it.”

They fed Eva four times a day to get her weight up. For the arthritis, she got pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medication; glucosamine and fish oil supplements; and chiropractic, acupuncture, and laser therapies. Hughes, a Reiki master who specializes in animals, also massaged her daily.

“We showered her with anything and everything she needed. Eva started putting on weight, and muscles started popping out of nowhere,” says Hughes, adding that she now weighs 89 pounds. “Seven months later, she is a fully functioning dog.”

Eva did have a health scare in June that required an emergency spay; veterinarians had advised against spaying before because of her advanced age. It was after that Hughes and Lang decided to make her addition to the family official.

“The PSPCA never pushed us. They said she could live out the rest of her life as a foster under our care, but Danny and I felt completeness with her and wanted to express that,” Hughes explains.

Eva now spends her days napping and playing with both KC and Gráinne, after her canine sister warmed up to her.

“I would tell people that they politely ignore each other. That went on for about five months, but their relationship is wonderful now,” says Hughes.

Eva’s spry behavior has the couple hoping that the vets overestimated her age.

“Dogs can start turning gray at six. We’re hoping she’s closer to 10 than 13,” says Hughes. “She wakes up in such a good mood. With the days getting colder, mornings are worse because of her arthritis, but she always has a smile on her face. Were looking forward to many more years with her.”

To see more photos and also video of Eva, visit her Facebook page.

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