In the course of single day, Ashley Niels learned her beloved dog, Spunky, was quickly and quietly dying.
The 12-year-old husky-German shepherd-chow mix had a fatal and untreatable form of cancer, the vet told Niels last week. He should be put down sooner rather than later, so he wouldn’t suffer.
With a leaden heart, Niels scheduled Spunky’s appointment with the needle for the next evening.
But first, she wanted her snow-loving dog to get one final storm, even if it was totally manufactured and deep in the heart of Texas.
Her colleagues and friends at the Austin Animal Center, where she works as behavior and enrichment specialist, rented a snow machine and brought it to Niels’ house, where she sat in the front yard with Spunky and experienced a storm of tiny proportions.
“To be honest, he was like, ‘I’m not really sure what this is.’ It wasn’t cold snow. I think he could see how excited I was, so he thought it was pretty cool,” Niels told InsideEdition.com Tuesday night.
“I think he felt all the love we were trying to show him.”
His appointment with death was canceled – the vet had a family emergency and Niels couldn’t go through with putting him down.
In addition, Spunky was feeling better. He was eating and running and seemed to be in no pain.
The veterinarian said this might happen, that Spunky could rebound if his body absorbed the internal bleeding caused by his cancer.
So Niels is now taking it one day at a time. “As long as he’s happy, I don’t really want to take that from him,” she said. “It makes me happy to be able to spend more time with him."
She adopted him as a puppy from a local shelter in Wisconsin. They lived there for four years.
“He could spend hours in snow drifts and be just fine. He loved it. The colder it is, the happier he is. Unfortunately, Texas couldn’t give that to him,” she said.
They moved to Austin in 2008. Despite developing allergies, Spunky otherwise adapted well. He ran like crazy, bounded up and down the stairs, and charmed nearly everyone he met.
“You can’t meet Spunky without falling in love with him,” declares his owner.
Then came last week, when sudden weakness overcame him, and wouldn't eat. The vet's prognosis followed.
Niels knows, in the far reaches of her heart, that the end is near. But she doesn’t want that to spoil the here and now.
“I try not to think about it because he’s my boy. I get to spend this extra-special time with him … He’s kind of an old soul. He’s gentle, and he’ll just look at you with pure adulation.
“You can just feel the love.”