June 2016 was when we first posted Ernie on our instagram account. Our friend Polly took him as a foster because he had nowhere else to go and she could tell there was something very special about him. Polly's own dog isn't ever crazy about having new dogs around the house but she was fine with Ernie because he was so easy going. He was healthy and other than not being well taken care of and the resulting skin issues from laying on concrete for most of his 7 years of life, there appeared to be nothing wrong with him. We thought he'd be an "easy placement". Phrases we used to describe Ernie in his adoption profile were "extremely sweet natured", "loves people", "loves attention", "will just put his head in your lap to be pet", "isn't too high energy", "likes to spend time exploring in the yard but then is mellow in the house", etc.
In the middle of August 2016, Ernie still hadn't been adopted and Polly and I were handling Dale Jr. If you remember, he was one of our special needs foster dogs with severe medical issues that required a lot of time, money, and care to get him through his treatment. Another foster had volunteered to take Ernie in NC even though we knew deep down it wasn't the best environment for him (she had several dogs and a rather chaotic environment). However, as with all other rescues, we have limited resources. And, like usual, we were so short on foster homes which was made worse since that was a particularly difficult time for us with so many special needs cases. So, we posted Ernie again on our social media channels again to try to drum up some interest and get him out of NC fostering into a loving, forever home.
A few weeks later, the NC foster had indicated she was having issues with Ernie. She spoke of signs of aggression which was a surprise to us. Her patience was waning and we could sense it. We asked for more photos with no response back from her. We offered assistance placing him, and so many other rescues now jumped in with offers to help. Our fear and original doubt that her chaotic situation was going to work for him was being validated and we were now desperate. In the meantime, we had tragically lost Dale Jr. who could not survive his heartworm treatment and we did not want to lose Ernie but we were terrified. On September 9, 2016 we put out another plea for help:
It turns out, the NC foster lied. She had already had Ernie euthanized, we are not sure when exactly. But she lied to all of us about it and never had our permission. We would have taken him back into our care and several other rescues had stepped in to offer emergency help.. but she did not give him the chance. On September 12, 2016 we posted,
It has been a year now, and we cannot forget the events that led to the loss of sweet Ernest. The "no dog left behind" effort is to help remind us that every animal in need is important and that action is important. We believe in doing something. Saying yes.
The proceeds from these Ernie stickers will go to Southeast GSP Rescue who took on the care of Ernie, Dale Jr, and so many more special needs dogs since then.
Thank you to Brent Wick for the beautiful drawing of Ernie.