A Letter to Betty’s Old Family

A Letter to Betty’s Old Family

lettertobetty_bl_1Dear Betty’s previous family,

Maybe you don’t recognize the name but I know you recognize the face. If you’re wondering if this is your Bessie, the answer is yes. The only thing is she’s now our Betty.

I’m not here to judge you. I don’t know what happened that made you make the decision to dump your dog at the pound but after 16 years I’m hoping it was a good one. I want you to know she spent 8 days in a high kill shelter. I know you saw the same place I saw and I think you would agree with me it’s not the most ideal housing arrangements for ANY dog, let alone a senior. I honestly think the only thing that kept her from completely shutting down was that she’s deaf and couldn’t hear the cries and barking of the other dogs that were in there. And maybe the cataracts in her eyes made her vision blurry enough so she couldn’t quite see where she was at but you know what works perfectly? Her nose does. So for 8 days, the familiar scent of her family of the past 16 years was replaced by the smell of death, uncertainty and despair.

lettertobetty_bl_3If it wasn’t for her picture being spread across social media, she certainly would have died in there. I didn’t see her picture until the 8th day and I rushed down to the pound praying it wasn’t too late. Thankfully, it wasn’t.

I must say, you did take good care of her. She was already fixed, her coat was nice and she wanted nothing to do with me. I looked into her eyes and saw a dog who was confused and did not see me as someone there to save her. She was looking at me as if she was completely let down that it wasn’t you that came to pick her up.

The first week she was with me she bit me a total of 5 times. She wanted nothing to do with me or any of the dogs in the house. Again, the scents here were nothing like she was used to for the past 16 years. She walked stiff and she shook every time she exhaled. She would fall multiple times for no reason and run into walls. We gave her the space she wanted. I knew I could never replace the family she was loyal to for the past 16 years but at least I could let her retire in peace and not the hell hole she was left at.

lettertobetty_bl_2But as one week turned into two and two turned into 3 something almost magical happened. For starters she stopped showing her teeth to me and biting me but she stopped limping. She stopped the shaking and she began to accept her new home as her forever home. Our creaky old Betty was now going on walks with the youngin’s and the other day she even jumped over 3 foot bench in my backyard. And she did it with the biggest smile on her face as if to tell me she still has plenty left her tank.

Your dog has not only become an ambassador for senior dogs but she’s also become a big “pit bull” advocate and she’s probably going to end up on a t-shirt. Again, I’m not here to judge you…but if you do decided to get another dog, I’m asking that you keep them until the end. Be there with them for their last days no matter how hard it may be on you because you just being there will make it easier for them.

And if that’s too much to handle then maybe a dog isn’t for you because I may not be there next  time to save that one.

I can honestly say that the only thing Betty would want more than to spend her last days with me would be to spend them with you.

Thank you for your time.

John, Penny, Elvis, Wally, Snack Pak, Fletcher…and Betty.



  1. Oh dear, your letter brought me to tears. You amaze me with every waking moment of your being. You are such a good hearted person and to save a 16 your old senior when most people would not because of her age took something a lot of people don’t have. I can never thank you enough for what you do for these dogs. Please don’t ever stop being you and keep doing great things!!! 😀

    • I second this. Thank you so much for what you do, and the eloquence with which you explain it to others. There are some days where I can’t comprehend the way humans treat both the other humans & animals they share the earth with. But when I read things like this it helps remind me of the goodness in this world.

    • Thank you Rebecca. I feel like she’s getting younger as each day passes. She’s been a blessing to our family!

  2. Even though I shed a few tears as well your letter was really touching. I am so glad you got there in time to save Betty. Thank you! The rest of her days will be filled with happiness because of you. 🙂

  3. Rachel Spallino : September 25, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    I first came across your pack on Instagram. I have four pitbulls and a pig that all live together in our home so I instantly could relate.
    What I have never done has been to rescue a senior. After seeing Wally and now Betty, I have been incredibly moved by your love and compassion. Pets are indeed a lifetime commitment. But the love and loyalty they give are priceless!
    i would LOVE to buy a Betty shirt if you decide to make them!!
    Thanks again, you are a true guardian angel for your dogs.

  4. Thank you for this! It is everything I’ve ever wanted to say to the previous owner of our dog Jerry who found abandoned in a park near our home last year. He’s an old guy with serious arthritis in his hind legs but he still has so much love to give. He fits in beautifully with the rest of our pack and has taught my son how to be gentle and give snuggles. Seniors have so much love to give. I can’t imagine abandoning any of my babies ever!
    Reading your letter was so cathartic for me. Thank you so much!

  5. Sharyl andruska : September 25, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    Once again your written words bring to life so many emotions and I pray with all my heart her previous family reads this. Bless you for making the world better not only for Betty but for ALL of us!

  6. Stephanie Gomez : September 25, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    Oh John John John…there you go..making me cry once again! I know i’ve told you this over and over, but I’m sooo privileged to call you my friend! You have such a big heart and sooo much love to give to these babies that i’m in awe of you daily! You are a better person then i am cuz my letter to the previous owners wouldn’t have been so nice..lol..but you are right, no matter what their reasoning was to dump her, she is where she needs to be. With YOU…and your pack..and i too look forward to seeing her face on a shirt and it will be one that i will buy..pssst..make sure you have the extended sizes for it!!! Keep doing what you are doing..for what you are doing is an amazingly awesome thing!

  7. Thank you for taking Betty in…I lost my pet that I had for 18 years……..She was 7 weeks old when I got her……….Her name was CheeChee…..She was a chi…….Tank you and God Bless You….

  8. I’m sorry, but that whole “I’m not here to judge you” line is bull and we all know it. Maybe her old owner(s) were old. Old people die all the time and they sadly leave behind their senior pets. Maybe they became ill and were incapacitated and it broke their heart to leave that sweet dog behind. And I’m sure they didn’t Google “worst pet shelter.” They probably took her to the humane society who placed her in another shelter because they didn’t have room. That’s what usually happens. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that you gave this old dog a second chance at life, but get off your high horse, please. This whole post is basically saying “You took bad care of your dog, but lucky for her I am a shining star angel hero and you are a monster.” That is what you are saying and you know it. If she is really such a sweet dog, you really think someone is proud of themselves for giving her up? Congratulations on your new pet, but you aren’t automatically a good person just because you rubbed someone else’s nose in it.

    • You’re a douche bag. This exemplary human being is out there busting his ass to make a difference in the lives of animals and you and trying to tear him down? I hope you read his response to your ignorant comment.

    • But did you go to rescue her? Would you have? Exactly. John is phenomenal.

      I’ve rescued a senior who was blind and deaf and there are challenges.. The hardest challenge is imagining why the previous owner have them up. All of us who have rescued a senior would love to write a letter to the previous owners asking why… The only difference is John blogs in order to educate.

      Looks like some people need to keep reading.

    • gari lynn smith : September 30, 2015 at 3:44 pm

      you are an extremely ingnorant human being! betty would have died in that shelter without john and his love for all animals! what kind of human and i use the word loosely dumps an old dog in a kill shelter? not a very “nice” one! my dog barney was beaten and burned and thrown out of a car on the freeway as a baby and ended up in a kill shelter! thank God for rescues and people like john or he and his brother would have died and i would have missed 15 amazing years with my best friend! there is nothing about john’s posts that screams ego or anything remotely like that so that is just your uninformed perception! you are also not a very “nice” person!

  9. Betty’ s story left me with tears in my eyes and no words to say. You are a wonderful man with a great family and huge heart. Thank you for sharing.

  10. What a wonderful person you are! I am crying as I write this! The world needs more people like you! God bless you and Betty!

  11. Marilyn Meadows : September 27, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Hello…I’ve not seen your previous posts, but I’m sure glad I saw this one. It confirmed for me my decision that when the time comes for us to welcome a new rescue into our home, we will do it with the intention of rescuing a senior or some other dog that has been passed over time and time again because maybe they’re just not “cute enough”. Their age or appearance will not matter to us.
    What you have given sweet Betty is precisely and exactly what we want to provide. Dogs such as Betty should not be in shelters, but obviously it happens. More than any of us care to think
    about. I can’t change it for all the abandoned seniors and the ones passed over for reasons that have nothing at all to do with their need to love and be loved. But I’m going to do what I can. I hope and pray others will too. Thank you for sharing Betty’s story. I’m so happy you found her in time.

  12. Love this letter…. Betty is lucky to live out her life in your pack. Thank you for sharing these touching letters. I too hope Betty’s former owners see this. Thank you for being an inspiration to so many. You are a truly wonderful human!

  13. Dawn Ingebretson : September 27, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    Thank you for yet another heartfelt story about your rescued and adopted pets. Betty loves you and knows your heart John. The example you portray, and the hard work that you put forth is very commendable. Wish more people would open their hearts to precious animals needing a home.

  14. My daughter and I have 5 rescue dogs, two of which are senior dogs. They are just the sweetest, happiest retrievers we have ever had. Even though their time with us will not be as long as we would like, it will be filled with all of the love and kindness that they deserve.

  15. This is beautiful and brought tears to my eyes my border collie is reaching 16 deaf partially blind and I wouldn’t give him up for all the money in the world. His story : He was found in a wheely bin tide up with rope as a pup this is the story I was told by his “owner” one day. He was in a horrible home A few streets from me and it broke my heart every day to watch this sweet blonde skinny pup roaming the streets you could see his hips his rips everything so one day I approached the house and asked hey can I take your dog on my paper round with me everyday I was 13 at the time and the woman said yeah whatever she also had two German Shepards well looked after not the nicest dogs you knew to keep your distance anyway I took this sweet blonde boy with me every day and bought him a can of dog food out of my paper round money just so I knew he had something in his tummy. This went on for 2 years didn’t really gain much weight he was riddled with worms. One day I was walking up the street and the lady came running out screaming covered in blood and my heart stopped I asked what happend and she told me the two male dogs got into a fight my blonde sweet boy was hurt I ran into the house and scooped him up not a care in the world my focus was getting him out covered in blood limp I walked out of her house and said you aren’t getting this dog back I found my metaphorical balls that day I took him home and told my parents I can’t watch him slowly die anymore I’ve done as much as I can please help me save him my mum burst into tears at the sight of him we rushed him to the vets face wounds ear torn open he was critical for 3 days the worst 3 days of my life. My parents reported the lady who had him and she was convicted of neglect and other things. But you know what he has a heart of gold NEVER bit anyone never showed his teeth not a mean bone in his body I would trust this dog with anyone and I wouldn’t dream of ever parting with him until his last breath I will be by his side. People ask me why did you not do something sooner and get really angry with me and my reply is always as a child I did what I knew I could do for him with out getting us both into trouble they weren’t the people to mess with and as a child I was scared as hell to even think of reporting them to any kind of authority I was worried everyday going to the house to collect him just in case one day they decided they didn’t like me walking him anymore and turned nasty but I still did it my focus was this sweet natured blonde collie named buster I didn’t even tell my parents that I walked him he has been my best friend for 9 years and I count my lucky starts everyday that he’s in my life. Betty is in the best place and what you do for these dogs is amazing and from the bottom of my heart thank you for all you do! I’m sorry my message is so long I just thought I would share my story with you and your readers 🙂

    • I read your story and it made me cry. It touched my heart to know that there are still people in this world raising good kids that are willing to step in for an animal. I’m sure you’re much older now then when you first rescued Buster, but your parents did right in how they raised you because you were willing to rescue Buster. While your purpose was to thank John for all the amazing things he does, my purpose is to thank you. You are a wonderful person for being so brave at an early age and changing the life for this poor pup. You are amazing and I hope you pass that down to your future generations, so there can be more people like you in the world.

    • Thank you for doing what YOU do!! And anytime you want to share a story, I would love to feature you as a guest blogger one day!

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