​A tribute to Hagan… the “shelter dog” featured in “Too Licky”

The story of Hagan didn’t make it into this edition of “Too Licky.” And it’s too important not to share.

Hagan was the inspiration behind this beautiful illustration of a “shelter dog” by our incredible illustrator, Cynthia.

She shared his story with me written by his foster mom, Susan Richard. 

Now, we want to share it with you.

Another tissue warning….

A tribute to Hagan, my foster boy extraordinaire! So blessed for my time with him.

I’ve been thinking about Hagan often since his passing. Just reminiscing through my memories of our meeting and short time together. I remember every detail of our initial meeting. Walking down the hallway between kennels I spotted him. The first thing I said out loud to him: “We are going to be best friends!” I knew in my heart at first glance that he’d be a favorite. It was his sweet older face and how it bobbed slightly as he wagged his tail, though it hung a little low, maybe a little defeated. His eyes were full of kindness, maybe a little weary, and full of wisdom. I loved him immediately. He was sharing a kennel with a small yappy dog and seemed completely unruffled by the noise of his rambunctious roomie. I thought Hagan must have the patience of Job.

Hagan, or so we called him, because we had no way of knowing his real name, arrived at the shelter one night after the shelter had closed. Someone brought him to our rural shelter, tied him to the fence, leaving him to be found the next day. They turned their back on him forever, abandoning him completely, but there were signs that they had forsaken him long before they tied him to the fence. When I got him out of the kennel, it was apparent that life had dealt him an unkind hand. Someone did not care for him to the best of their ability. Hagan was very thin, despite his big beautiful shoulders and bully head. There were some signs of previous scars on his face and body. It was not a body of youth. His ears had scarring from recurrent unmanaged ear infections and his teeth were yellow and frankly, horrendous. Tests showed he was heart worm positive; no surprise there either.

But still there was a beauty enveloping Hagan’s spirit. I immediately saw his potential and even now I cry thinking how unfair it was that his owners did not see what I saw, nor did they treat him with dignity and respect. What could have been for him was not. Someone chose him from that litter of puppies and then robbed him of a healthy, full life. It was an injustice and unfair. My heart melted.

Hagan was friendly and kind to everyone, winning over each volunteer met and greeting other dogs at the shelter with a friendly demeanor. There were a few of us that fostered him to give him a loving home, a place to rest, recover, and heal. We all adored him completely. He had finally met people that gave him our hearts and were willing to invest in his health and wellbeing. I know we all loved having him in our homes. I have such sweet memories of him snuggling with me as I lay on the floor and playing with toys, pawing at them like a puppy. He was content. He was relaxed. He slept so soundly. I giggle at his fear of tile and coaxing him to follow us through the house. I took pictures…so many pictures… and I’m so glad I did! We took him out in public and he would ride in the car like a boss and sit like a gentleman watching people go by, looking at each one, wagging his tail, hoping they would stop to speak or pet him. Just the perfect companion. I had high hopes for him. Big plans for his full recovery.

Very kind people saw his pictures and wanted him immediately. Even knowing he was old, they were undeterred. Mom had wanted an older, calm dog. They fostered him, planning to adopt when his heartworm treatment was completed. I know they spoiled him and treated him kindly. I’m so thankful for that. Hagan finally had many people supporting him and a home and family that loved him. But his sweet time of the good life was too short. As it happened, it was too late for a full recovery. He started to drop weight and lose fur. Tests revealed that he was in a state of advanced renal failure. Our hearts broke. Our disappointment was immeasurable.

Hagan’s wonderful being, his gentle presence, was surrounded by admirers when he passed. Those admirers brought the love and support of many others. This dog that had been discarded had amassed an army of devotees and found love. We adored him down to his last breath. He was not alone or fearful. I won’t forget you, Hagan. We all wished for a different ending and there is much heartbreak in not getting our wishes fulfilled.

I learned much from Hagan: Be open to the goodness that comes my way by receiving and reciprocating. Don’t dwell on the past. Old dogs can learn new tricks. Always be ready for a new start and a new adventure. Each day is precious. Stay kind. Love unconditionally. There is beauty at every age. A nap is to be relished, especially with some snoring thrown in. Not every human is cruel and inconsiderate. Likewise, not every dog that looks like a pit bull is vicious. We are all individuals to be appraised of our own merits.

Though my heart exploded because of the injustices & apparent neglect, amid that some of the most loving and compassionate people on the planet rallied to love and serve a forsaken dog and call him their own. I have the utmost respect for these people.

Long live Hagan in our hearts!


We felt Hagan and his legacy are so important that he’s featured TWICE on the pages of “Too Licky.” 

As the deemed “shelter dog” inside the book as well as on the back cover. He is helping to share the message that with your purchase, Gigi and Ryan are able to give back and help more dogs like Hagan find their forever homes.

Thanks for your support of this great project!!

Pawful gratitude,

Jody, Gigi, Ryan and Sugar

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