What would you do if you were given a week to live? Some people would spend every waking second with those they love; others would hop on a plane if possible and head for their dream destination. The rest would probably just panic.
When a dog-loving Texas man found himself staring death in the face, he was forced to decide how he’d spend his final moments. And when he finally announced his remarkable last wish, the community banded together to make it come true.
By the time he reached his 71st birthday, Richard Ewers was living outside San Antonio, Texas. He was a beloved figure in his community and, despite an ailing body, he kept himself busy with a few friends.
See, only a few years before he turned 71, Richard walked outside his home to an alarming sight: a stranger left several dogs on his property before taking off without a word! Both concerned and confused, he did the unthinkable.
He adopted them — all of them — and over the next two years, Richard fed and cared for all the dogs, making his house a little canine sanctuary. But as soon as he was done making room, he got another surprise.
Some of the female pooches dropped on his doorstep were pregnant! You can imagine his surprise when he discovered the number of dogs in his house was about to skyrocket.
Specifically, once all the puppies were born, Richard was left caring for about 40 dogs! To take care of so many dogs required a lot of energy, but Richard didn’t shy away from the challenge. Still, some issues proved to be nearly too much.
For instance, a raging Texas fire nearly reached his property. The 71-year-old wasn’t exactly ready to evacuate more than three dozen pooches from his house. The dogs themselves caused some trouble, too.
Put 40 dogs into a room and there’s bound to be a few howling contests, which was a fact Richard’s neighbors likely detested. He received several police citations because of loud noises. Eventually, he admitted he needed some help.
Providing a home for dozens of dogs was daunting, but Richard’s neighbors stepped up to help. Volunteers from his community and rescue shelters helped pay for vet visits; eventually, they helped him find homes for 13 dogs. Life was good — until Richard visited the doctor.
It was in the sterile office Richard received a diagnosis no one should have to face. He had stomach cancer, doctors told him, and he didn’t have long to live. Naturally, Richard’s mind went to one place.
All those pooches, Richard knew, would soon be without a home if he passed away. When the news spread, his community was distraught. Locals knew that Richard couldn’t care for so many dogs at the same pace as before. Something had to be done.
So volunteers set up a Facebook page with a goal to find homes for the remaining 27 pooches. Because of the page, titled “Helping Mr. Richard and His Dogs,” people turned out in droves to make a difference.
Some people donated appliances so Richard could take better care of his dogs. Local businesses chipped in and helped him tow an RV out of his yard and put up fencing so the pups could have a safe place to play outside!
But best of all, people showed up to adopt Richard’s beloved dogs. Nearly everyone who went home with a dog shared their pooch’s photo on the Facebook page. Things were looking up…until tragedy struck for a second time.
Richard’s cancer was progressing, and in 2019 doctors had some gut-wrenching news: he only had about a week left to live. Curiously, the news didn’t panic or upset the dog lover.
Instead, he used his remaining time to fulfill his surprising selfless last wish: to find homes for the remaining eleven dogs still living in his house. But now he needed even more help from his community.
They knew the situation was grim: “We are all very saddened by this, of course,” said Mary Oyler from Save Our Strays San Antonio. “We want to make that last wish come true for him.”
With 11 dogs still needing homes, the community knew it would have to work hard to find them all homes before Richard passed. Time wasn’t on their side, and if they didn’t find homes for them, they’d get seized by the county!
“It would add a lot more stress to what they’re going through already,” said Mary. “Not having Mr. Richard here, there’s confusion, there’s loneliness, there’s depression.”
By May 2019, the group was hopeful they could finish Richard’s work. Once they started, they secured homes for several of the pups, and they knew there were plenty more families out there looking for a furry friend.
Richard’s surprising gesture inspired a community to come together for a good cause. “You’ve got to love animals to do this type of stuff,” said Mary. “He clearly cared for them and loved them.”
To help find those dogs home, Richard Ewers and his community would’ve benefited from the work of Theoklitos Proestakis. The Crete man, nicknamed Takis, had quite the reputation among the dogs in his community.
The Greek man practiced dentistry in the picturesque town of Ierapetra, and neither he nor his neighbors ever thought they could ask for more. But by 2009, their dream lifestyles began to crumble.
The global financial crisis hit Greece extremely hard, and the following years saw the country’s debt and unemployment skyrocket. As some households lost everything, riots and protests broke out on the streets.
All over the isle of Crete, families made heartbreaking decisions to save money, particularly when it came to their pets. Some people abandoned their animals out in the wilderness. Others did much worse.
YouTube / The Dodo
The aftermath nearly broke Takis. A lifelong canine lover, he couldn’t believe it when he drove past a local landfill. Countless dogs had made it their home, and they were fighting over scraps to survive.
Facebook / Takis Shelter
Unable to bear the sight of these poor animals suffering, the dentist gave them some relief. He snuck through the fence and poured a bag of dog food in a clearing. As the dogs scarfed it up, Takis noticed many of them were in dire need of medical attention.
Facebook / Takis Shelter
For the weakest pooches, Takis called in some favors from doctor friends to nurse them back to health. Still, he knew this was a short-term solution. If these dogs stayed out in the open, most of them would die.
Fortunately, an open stretch of land on the outskirts of Ierapetra presented a solution. Takis figured that it could function as a temporary sanctuary for the abandoned dogs. At the very least, it would be better than living in the dump.
Facebook / Takis Shelter
In 2012, the Cretan began moving the neglected pooches to the site, which he dubbed the Takis Shelter. He hoped the dogs could hole up there until they found permanent homes, though the situation immediately proved more complicated than he imagined.
Facebook / Takis Shelter
Some neighbors complained about the noise from the dogs, and a few hotheads even threatened violence. Nevertheless, Takis blocked out their insults and warnings. He had enough to deal with inside his own organization.
YouTube / Ruptly
As more dogs entered the shelter, his costs spiraled out of control. For one thing, he spent nearly $2,000 per month just feeding all the pooches. But some had even more expensive needs.
YouTube / Takis Shelter
A number of the dogs weren’t spayed or neutered, so Takis paid for these operations out-of-pocket to keep his shelter population from spiraling out of control. Before long, he took extreme measures to keep everything from going under.
Takis essentially gave up his old life! He already left dentistry behind to care for Crete’s abandoned dogs, but soon enough, he also had to sell his home and his car just to pay the bills. There was almost nothing left for him.
From there on out, the Takis Shelter also became the home of its founder. He slept and took his meals right alongside the animals he was rescuing and feeding. Many people would’ve considered this rock bottom.
Facebook / Takis Shelter
But strangely enough, Takis felt more fulfilled than ever before. While there was no denying that his new life was hard, he knew he was really making a difference. And word about his mission started to get around too.
The Pappas Post
As the population of the shelter approached 200, Takis felt increasingly overwhelmed, but he wouldn’t be alone for long. Both friends and strangers from Ierapetra began to show up at the gates. They wanted to lend a helping hand.
Facebook / Takis Shelter
Though not everyone had the time to volunteer, many more aided Takis’ efforts in their own ways. Crates of food and pet supplies, mostly from other countries, arrived on his doorstep. Suddenly, Takis had enough support to do more than just scrape by.
As a matter of fact, Takis opened up a new branch of the shelter specifically for abandoned house cats. After all, dogs weren’t the only ones kicked out of their homes after the recession.
In time, Takis Shelter finally began achieving its ultimate goal: finding permanent homes for their pets. Delighted visitors swarmed in to find a new family member and left with huge smiles on their faces.
The Nomad Pup
For Takis, it’s bittersweet to see his canine pals leave him, but he knows they’re off to a better place. He continues to pull unfortunate pups out of landfills and alleys every day, though now he’s sure he’s not just giving them shelter. He’s giving them hope.
Instagram / Takis Shelter
After all, there’s no sight more joyful that a new dog adoption. Have you ever been so excited you had to bite something? If not, then you’ve never been on the same happiness level of this golden doodle pup, who for went the lame-duck version of “got your nose” by literally getting his new owner’s schnoz.
talkingxbird / reddit
She found this pup on the side of the road and was going to bring her to the local shelter, but then she saw her face, and, well… let’s just say she ended up bringing her back to her own house! Can you blame her?
FuzzyManPeach / reddit
If you adopt a dog and she immediately poses for a selfie with you while grinning ear-to-ear, it’s safe to say you made a good choice! It’s nothing but clear skies for these two besties from here on out.
Hi-sup / Reddit
As the classic club song once decreed, putting your hands in the air is strictly reserved for those who just don’t care. But don’t tell this pup that! She and her new family couldn’t have looked more excited about their future of friendship.
Lort Smith / Facebook
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then all thousand words for this one would be some variation of awwww over and over. The look of total relaxation and comfort on this dog’s face says it all.
Zombeejeesus / reddit
A really memorable morning might include breakfast in bed, but a puppy wakeup call seems a whole lot better than a tray of toast, bacon, and coffee. All you need his one look at this cuddly doggo’s face for proof!
Covino & Rich / Youtube
What’s cuter than a puppy and his new owner gazing lovingly into one another’s eyes? You can tell they’re thinking of the next dozen or so years of friendship. That, or this doggo is hoping to borrow the keys to the car.
Budzsta / Reddit
A little sunshine and a hug from a new owner—what more could a dog want? Not a whole lot judging by the look on this girl’s face! Her gleeful expression would’ve looked perfectly in place in a shampoo ad.
Megan Jordan / Facebook
That’s a big smile for a little dog! Of course, Tata the pup couldn’t help herself after she’d finally been adopted and taken back to her forever home. And because of her happiness, her new owner couldn’t help but smile, too!
Nicoletta Licciardi / Facebook
Every year he asked for a puppy for Christmas, and every year, his wife declined. That’s another mouth to feed, after all. But one year, his Christmas wish was finally granted, and he couldn’t keep the shock off of his face!
Alyssa Goodwin / Youtube
If adventurers ever found the legendary Fountain of Youth, chances are, it would be a 10-foot-deep pit full to the brim with puppies. Nothing energizes a person or makes them smile like a puppy, and this senior citizen who just met her new companion knows that better than anyone!
I_Speak_Australian / reddit
There’s no doubt that being a police officer must be one of the most stressful jobs on the entire planet. Cops tend to have a tough exterior while on duty, but this officer couldn’t help but melt when he hugged his new puppy!
Panhandle Welfare Society / Facebook
When this woman adopted her new pooch, she couldn’t help but cradle him like her a newborn baby. Judging by the look on this dog’s face, he didn’t mind that at all! He was ready for a lifetime of love.
Allie Lucchetti / Facebook
As this Reddit user put it: “I went to adopt a dog and ended up with a bear.” He didn’t seem too upset about it! Now with a big doggo at his side, he’ll be able to tackle anything the future might hold.
wiioz / reddit
There’s a certain stigma that comes with adopting an older dog—they tend to have a variety of health issues—but this guy didn’t care when he picked out this pretty pooch. They posed for a quick picture outside the shelter, where she really nailed the adorable lolling tongue!
wickedsmaht / reddit
It’s hard to tell the difference between a well-formed “Can we keep him?” face and an “I love this dog so much face,” but rest assured, this girl’s making both! You can tell there’s a lot of love in this pup’s future!
project_seven / reddit
Emotions can run wild when you meet a new pet for the first time, and perhaps there’s no greater proof than this guy’s reaction. When his significant other surprised him with a new dog, he broke down in tears.
DarkSpirit_ / reddit
You bring your new dog home, and what’s the first thing you’re gonna do? Throw a backyard party with your new pooch, that’s what! Maybe if you’re lucky, the dog will even make the same face as you when you pose for a selfie.
zackbusselsd / reddit
The woman in this photo suffered from depression. Life, to her, felt incredibly hopeless. When she finally felt she was on firm ground again, emotionally, she treated herself to a little puppy. This single snapshot captures the beauty of the moment she took him home.
What’s the best cure for a grumpy dad who just wants to watch Netflix? Why, a puppy of course! (This is also the cure for everything, by the way.) The question is, who won this staring contest?
RathskellerDweller / reddit
They say there’s no medicine quite like a child’s laughter, but maybe children sleeping with their canine best friend for the next decade or so is a close pharmaceutical second. Rest now, fellas, ’cause there’s gonna be a whole lot of playing when you wake up!
Happiness Heroes / Facebook
Oddly, this photo looks like a scene ripped right out of a Pixar movie… or a photo from a pamphlet on the joys of dog ownership. Either way, it’s hard not to want to give your own pooch a hug after getting a load of this kid!
logically / reddit
As one Reddit commenter pointed out, the camera may have been quick enough to catch this protruding puppy’s tongue, but it still couldn’t capture his fast-flicking tail! The picture practically bleeds enthusiasm.
tinkerlane / reddit
Their faces said it all: the little girl, overcome with glee at her new Christmas gift, perhaps thinking about a future of mischief with this new pup; the pup, that placid, tongue-lolling look, couldn’t make a better “I’m a puppy” face if he or she tried!