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Biscuit: A Love Story
When the DeNicola family came to North Shore Animal League America in August 2004, they had planned to adopt an older dog who might have a harder time finding a family. “My son Peter wanted a dog so badly,” says Maggi, who grew up in Port Washington but now lives in New Jersey. “I told him to look at a small or medium-sized dog, but when he saw Biscuit calmly sitting in her pen, just watching all the dogs and other people walk by, he fell in love with her.”
At 100 pounds, Biscuit was anything but small—but her sweet face and beautiful spirit quickly won over Maggi and her husband Steve. “In a matter of seconds, her smiling eyes had captured our hearts,” she says.
Maggi asked the kennel staff about Biscuit’s history, and what she learned was incredibly sad. “Biscuit had been abused early on in her life,” says Maggi. “But that made it even more amazing to see how friendly she was given what she had been through. She greeted all the dogs as friends; the staff told us that, because of her temperament, she socialized incoming dogs to help make them more friendly and adoptable.”
The staff also told Maggi and her family that after her earlier abuse, Biscuit had been adopted, but shortly after settling into her new home, her owner died and Biscuit was returned to the shelter once again.
“We told Biscuit on the spot that we would bring her home and she would never be alone again,” says Maggi. “We knew there had been a horrible start to Biscuit’s life, and we wanted only for her to feel secure and loved.”
That decision ended up being the best move they ever made, says Maggi. “Biscuit changed our lives forever. We consider ourselves to be the luckiest family ever to have had Biscuit. She was a best friend to my son and a second child to me and my husband.”
For the nine years she lived with the DeNicola family, Biscuit was always at their sides. “She was the most unique dog,” says Maggi. “She could tell time; she loved to stand outside with the deer in our yard, and she could even open the door and let herself in. She loved leading the other dogs in the neighborhood on walks, and she would lie close to the ground so not to step on the tiny dogs and would invite big dogs to play. She befriended everyone in the neighborhood.”
As Biscuit grew older, she suffered from arthritis and a number of other ailments, and eventually had trouble walking. They put her in water therapy, which helped, and she would wear a special boot or sock as if it was nothing. Their vet said that she never displayed the normal signs of discomfort. But, at the age of about 12 years old, Biscuit succumbed to cancer, and the DeNicolas were grief stricken.
“My husband works at home, so he was always with her,” says Maggi. “I’ve never seen him as devastated as when Biscuit died.”
Maggi hopes Biscuit’s story will inspire others to adopt from a shelter instead of buying a pet, and to also consider adopting an adult animal, not just a puppy or kitten. “I hope our story will be repeated over and over with every adoption,” she says. “It’s a story of how a pet becomes a family member who becomes your greatest love and, yes, then your greatest sorrow. Given time, I know this journey will be one that we replay, not as a sad story, but a wonderful memory. We wouldn’t trade the time we had for anything. She was pure, unconditional love.”
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