Luna - Portrait by David Jensen Photography
Luna’s original Pet Patrol adoption portrait, April 2017
Portrait by David Jensen Photography

Luna came to us in spring 2017 after extensive searching for a rescue dog. I grew up with dogs my entire life; our home was always filled with the love of a dog, and after buying a house and settling down in Anchorage, I felt that void needed to be filled. My husband, Dave, never had a pet growing up and only had experience with cat ownership. His one requirement: a pup that loved couch cuddles and didn’t require a run every day. So a senior dog it was!

We considered a couple rescues, did our research, and met a few different dogs. When I saw Luna’s photo (then named Riley) on Friends of Pets, I fell for her immediately. I love Boxers. They just have the best personalities! And while she was around 8 years old, her puppy face and soulful eyes did me in. Dave admits the second we met her, he knew we were going home with her. It was love at first sight.

Luna was underweight and recovering from some significant health issues when we first brought her home. She was weak and slightly wonky on her back end, but she bounded around the house and yard absolutely delighted to be with us. Over the summer of 2017, she gained weight and strength and went from being exhausted after a half mile walk to running 2 miles with us twice a day.

Luna - photo courtesy Jessica Sowinski

January 2018 brought ice and we noticed Luna started having trouble walking up the two steps at the front door. We figured she was nervous about falling in the slippery conditions, and didn’t think much of helping her inside. Then we needed to help her up the stairs at night. And then on to the couch. By March, Luna couldn’t support herself on her back legs at all.

Despite all this, Luna still wanted to get out, especially once the ice melted and the days got longer. We became well known in our neighborhood for using a sling on Luna’s back end and marching her around the block – sometimes for as short as a half mile, other times for almost 2 miles. One day, a kind stranger stopped Dave and told him about a company we could get her a set of wheels through. And everything changed from there.

Luna’s custom wheels were delivered at the end of May 2018. After the initial adjustments and getting her properly fitted, Luna took off. She would run in those wheels, down the Coastal Trail, all around Westchester Lagoon. Anywhere and everywhere we took her. Her wheels were the breath of fresh air she needed and helped give her back her independence. She became quite the celebrity. We ran into people who recognized her around the state – including time we spent at Denali State Park. We are certain more people in this city know Luna than know us!

Unfortunately, her condition appears to be neurologic in nature and progressive. These days she can’t go from Westchester Lagoon to Earthquake Park and back. She can’t run anymore. And she requires tension on her leash and your help to keep her propelling forward. She’s slowing down, but her stubbornness and determination are some of her best traits. Her face still lights up the second she sees you pull her wheels out of the closet. She’s a fighter and not giving up. And neither are we.

Adopting a senior pet is a burden of love. It is incredibly bittersweet to bring an aging animal into your home and heart. You don’t get as many years with them. They can come with medical issues and expenses. But you get to ensure they live out their lives in a home full of love. Luna has touched our hearts in a way no other pet has or ever will. For me, her deteriorating health and dependence on me for her needs helped prepare me to become a mother. She’s taught me patience and compassion. And I’m a better person for it. We are lucky for every day we get with her.