Braidwood Chief encourages people to consider pet foster, adoption

GRANDMA DOG WAS IN the Lyons’ care for 14 months, and in that time, became an important part of the family. Braidwood Police Chief Todd Lyons hopes the public will hear about his experience with pet foster and consider the same. Photo provided.

Marney Simon

Braidwood’s chief of police has years of experience working with the criminal element. A former patrol officer and investigator before taking the job as chief in Braidwood, Todd Lyons certainly has seen it all.

But, the chief’s big life experiences aren’t limited to police work. And on the lighter side for Lyons came plenty of room for a special lady—of the four-legged variety.

Lyons wanted to share with the public the experience he and his family had over the past 14 months as a foster family to a senior hospice dog, hoping his story would encourage others to help those pets in need.

Lyons said he and his wife first met the senior dog—a rat terrier they came to call Grandma Dog—in late January of 2021. They were out to dinner at Joneseez on a wintery night when they were told that someone found the tiny stray dog in the parking lot.

“My wife, who’s an avid animal lover, went out there to investigate what was going on,” Lyons said. “She later returned carrying this little old black and white dog that appeared to be really cold, you could tell she was cold and scared, and it was obvious that it was an older dog... She was malnourished and her nails were curled up underneath her feet and she was real skinny. So, you could tell the dog had not been taken care of.”

Lyons said images of the dog were posted to social media immediately. But while he and his wife were looking over the dog, a man showed up in the parking lot and claimed the dog was his. He said the man quickly relinquished Grandma Dog to the Lyonses, saying she was 17 years old and he had intended to have the animal put down anyway.

The next day, the couple contacted Promise Rescue from Will County, who picked her up for a vet appointment and found she had arthritis, worms, cataracts, and some other issues. The rescue asked the family if they were interested in fostering, and they said yes.

But, it was after Grandma Dog officially moved in that Lyons said things really began to change. While he had little interest at the time of caring for another animal, Lyons said Grandma Dog found her way right into his heart.

Lyons said he found himself more and more attached to Grandma Dog. At one point, his fellow officers even bought a cover for the spare wheel on his vehicle with a picture of Grandma Dog on it, that’s how important she became to him.

Lyons said that while Grandma Dog couldn’t see very well, she always recognized his voice and popped her head up when he came home at the end of the day.

Lyons said there was even an ongoing joke where he’d say “I love you” to the dog when he left the house before saying the same to his wife.

“As much as we loved Grandma Dog and provided her comfort, we had no idea what she’d do for us,” Lyons said. “During that time that we had her, she provided comfort to us. During that time, I had lost my father who had moved in for hospice care, and then we had lost my wife’s mother. So, as much as we did for her, she did for us, for my dad, and for my mother-in-law, also. I can’t explain the feeling, it’s hard to explain. If anybody follows me on Facebook, they know I loved that dog.”

After 14 months of caring for the elderly pup, Grandma Dog passed away.

“I felt like I had her for 10 years,” Lyons said. “She was just a big part of our daily routine. We went out and found food that she liked. She loved her food and she loved being held every night as we watched TV. She would just sleep on your chest, she’d just look at you and go right on your chest and fall asleep every night.”

Lyons said he hopes his tale of how he was affected by fostering a senior dog will inspire others to consider the same. Even though they knew their time with Grandma Dog would be limited, he said it was rewarding to give her a comfortable and loving home for her remaining days.

“I really do believe that she lived those additional months because of the love she received from us,” he said. “And the reason I’m sharing my story is that I learned that seniors and hospice dogs are the hardest to get placed into a home. So, through this process, and getting to know people who put a lot of time into these shelters and Promise Rescue, it’s hard to get these dogs placed.”

Lyons said he never considered what happens to senior or hospice dogs that have been rescued, but now knowing how difficult placement is—and that some hospice dogs have to be put down before they find a home—he wants to send a message to the community that if they have the ability to care for one of these animals, it’s worth the time and effort.

“When Grandma Dog did pass, I did go through sorrow, and I’m going through it,” he said. “But I wouldn’t change anything. I’ll do it again. I loved the enjoyment and it worked, and one day we’ll do it again. What we did for her, and what she did for us. Senior dogs and cats, they deserve the comfort and a loving home for their end years.”

The Lyonses went through Promise Rescue, which can be contacted via their website at

“It was a great experience providing a loving home for a senior dog, and I realized that providing that loving home far outweighs the loss,” Lyons said.