BY AJ TRAGER
SOUTHGATE – In late July, the Humane Society of Huron Valley called out for a hero who would be willing to provide the final home for a 3-year-old dog named Chase.
Chase, a white mastiff/pit bull terrier mix, has subaortic stenosis, a genetic heart condition that narrows the blood stream pumped from the heart, affecting the stability and health of the left side. To make matters worse, Chase is being treated with heartworm disease, a sickness affecting the right side of his heart. While he is being treated for heartworm, nothing can be done about subaortic stenosis which could flare up at any moment. Simply put, today could be the last day that Chase takes a nap in his mothers' arms.
"To adopt a dog with this condition is an emotional challenge, for sure," HSHV's COO, Matthew Schaecher, said in a July 31 press release. "But Chase still has lots of love to give, and we're sure there's someone who wants to do the same in return."
Less than one month after HSHV began its search for Chase's new guardians, Andrea Pociask and her partner Amber Wickett, a lesbian couple from Southgate, saw the Facebook video shared by the HSHV, fell in love with him and brought the 90 pound dog home.
"We brought him home on Aug. 20. That feels like it was years ago already," Pociask said. "He adjusted pretty well. He has a little bit of separation anxiety. Or at least he did for a minute when we had to go out of town and had a friend come over and stay with him. She had to leave for a few hours, and he found an area downstairs, and he decided he wanted to taste the couch. Well, he didn't like the cushions and decided to taste the stuffing. It must've tasted like Neapolitan ice cream for him."
Pociask and Wickett are the perfect mothers for Chase. Pociask works as a home care nurse, and Wickett works as a hospice nurse. They met at work in 2014 and quickly fell for one another.
"We take care of people and things that need it, and that is who we are. We see something broken and we want to fix it, and if we can't fix it, we want to love it to death," Pociask said.
They get attached to their patients and always hope to comfort people to the end of life or, if at all possible, make them better. The decision to adopt Chase was an easy one. If anyone is prepared to take care of Chase, it's Pociask and Wickett, who have a self-defined "special relationship with death."
"You can't change the world, but you can change your world to make it work for everyone around you," Wickett said. "All you can do is go in there and give them your all, and sometimes it is exhausting."
Chase has a big yard that he can play in and other friends, Ethel and Lucy, the couple's two cats. But Pociask and Wickett are limiting his exercise due to his conditions. Chase is supposed to take it "slow." But it didn't take long for him to be considered part of the family, and they are determined to make sure that his end of life is as fun and full of love as they can provide. They take him on car rides and park visits. He accompanies them to 7-11 and gets to smell the slurpees. And he is surrounded by two people that wait on him hand and foot.
"I don't know his background, but I can tell you that to me, before the Humane Society got him, it doesn't feel like he was loved all that much," Pociask said. "He loves to give kisses and slobber all over everything. We've had him around little dogs and he does great. He's very patient and calm."
Wickett and Pociask may have the skills to handle Chase's passing, but they are far from prepared for it. Even though they are constantly surrounded by death and struggle, they haven't been numbed to it one bit.
"It's going to hurt. I am surrounded by death all the time, but it still hurts. We're losing a family member, essentially," Wickett said.
Chase continues to give back, and Pociask says he never stops showing his love. She wishes that more people would adopt their pets instead of purchasing them from a high-end breeder. Wickett, whose family has bred show dogs her whole life, said that this experience has changed her life and now she wants to adopt all of her future pets.
"Seeing his story broke my heart," Wickett said. "So did me telling her that there are a lot of animals out there that need good homes that aren't necessarily being sold to make a profit."