When 19-year-old Colorado resident Sophiane Nacer first met Hippo the dog, he had cancerous tumors all over his face, and his health was failing. The badly neglected dog had been brought to the Adams County Animal Shelter in Colorado in October 2017 after being found as a stray, and was in terrible condition.
But Nacer, who founded the nonprofit Cayleb’s Kindred Senior Dog Rescue when she was just 14, decided to take Hippo out of the shelter after the required five-day waiting period in order to give him what she calls a “happy day” before he died—something she believes every dog should experience. Especially dogs like Hippo, who “probably hadn’t had a good day in a very long time,” she told TODAY.
Nacer wasn’t sure Hippo’s health would even allow him to enjoy a day outside of a kennel, but her uncertainty melted away when she noticed the dog’s tail start to wag in excitement. As ill as Hippo was, Nacer could tell he still had some energy left and wanted to have some fun, so they did! They first hit up a Starbucks for a “puppaccino,” a special off-the-menu item made with whipped cream, especially for dogs.
Next, they went to the park where they played, and Hippo made some new dog friends. Hippo even snuck a drink from the lake, which Nacer explains is not something she ordinarily would allow a dog to do, but considering Hippo’s circumstances, she didn’t want to stop him from enjoying himself.
After five hours of fun-filled play and happiness, Nacer sensed that Hippo was exhausted. “You could tell that he had enjoyed the day but he was done,” Nacer told TODAY. “It was time and he knew it.”
A veterinary euthanasia specialist came to Nacer’s house with a roasted chicken for Hippo’s last meal. “He gobbled it, then fell asleep,” Nacer said. “He passed very peacefully.”
Calling him an “incredible, gentle soul,” Nacer says she’s glad that Hippo’s story is being shared because of the awareness it’s brought to elderly hospice dogs.
Rest in peace, beautiful Hippo.