When somehow your best friend is a dog…
OK, this is not intended to be a sob story, but more as moments I want to share with all.
Because, yes, if you are an animal lover. If you are one of ‘those’ people, like me, that would turn the world around for a lost animal…You will understand very well where I am coming from.
And by doing so in my selfish way, I will in some manner, eternalize her memory in the written words…
Eight years ago, I made a profound decision. Yes, this cat lady was to adopt again. Not a cat but a dog.
And, not just any dog. But a rescue dog.
I had no idea what I was getting into.
Now, much to the discontentment of my then four cats, I went ahead with the decision.
Let’s get something straight.
I’m an animal lover. Serious. Animal. Lover.
My mother had this story about me, that what…at six years old, watching TV with her, I broke down sobbing because of a pig.
The context here is this.
There’s a program on TV about WW2. Destruction was everywhere, people hurt and walking the streets aimlessly.
Did I react? No.
A moment later, zoom in to the same street, same destruction, and what is there?
A pig. A bloodied pig, hurrying his way down the same street.
Do I react?
Yes. I broke down in tears because, as far as I was concerned, that was the worst that could happen during a war.
Forget the human beings. Save the animal.
So, what happened eight years ago?
A friend was finalizing the design of a new website and needed help with a few issues. Since I designed websites for a living, I was pleased to help out and give the website a look over.
That was a mistake. Why?
The website she had been working on what none other than Rosie Animal Adoption. A respected institution in my area, known for its fantastic work with rescue dogs. Their goal was and is to find homes for rescue dogs through their Foster & Adoption Care programs.
And that was it…I was hooked.
In all honesty, I must have spent at least three hours on that website. I was mesmerized by it all. I wanted to know all about the adoption process: the adoptees, the foster homes, everything.
I was going to adopt. That was it. That was all.
Following that first visit, I continued visiting none stop for about a week. I had made up my mind and was now looking to adopt a small rescue dog.
And as life sometimes gives you precisely what you are looking for… I found her.
Hair cut askew. Eyes full of wonder with a touch of fear… Tiny as tiny may be… Here she was, unknowingly looking for a loving, forever home.
From the moment I saw her picture, I knew I had found my buddy.
So, what happens next?
Well, because we were now dealing with a rescue dog, the adoption process was a bit more detailed.
We had been accepted for the adoption, and the wait time before we could take her home was at least a month.
You see, she had no idea what it was to live outside a cage. She had no idea what it was to be in the company of human beings that loved her. No idea what it was to be taken care of and cherished.
All of this was new to her.
And what needed to be done at this point, was for her to remain in the hands of loving professionals. She needed to go into a foster home where they would rehabilitate her for the next 30 days or so.
Once she was ready, they would contact us…
From what I remember, it took a good month, and then I finally received an email and call as to what she was ready.
And I remember that call like it was yesterday… I was so nervous. I wanted her home. I wanted to show her what the good life could be…
And home she came. After a two-hour interview with her by my side, we finally signed the dotted line.
Shauna was coming home with me.
That was eight years ago.
Eight years of her constant companionship that never, never left my side.
And the poor little one had so much to learn…
I remember too well when she first attempted to run. And the word ‘attempted’ is correct.
I can still see her…Tentatively running down the condo corridor. And then, abruptly stopping, as if she had done something wrong.
She was lost.
It was not the fact that she was not permitted to run. Understand, she had been stuck in a cage all her life. Even if that meant taking a few steps faster than usual, running was foreign to her.
But she knew. She knew I was there. Always there.
So, she turned around and looked at me… and all I could see were her beautiful eyes asking if it was OK.
OK, to be a dog.
OK, to express her happiness by taking a few steps faster than usual.
It stunned me.
Because sadly, I understood her request too well. Her request to be normal…to show happiness.
So, after taking a few moments to catch my thoughts…I moved closer to her, and told her that yes…Yes, she could run…And to show her so, I proceeded to speed up my pace, hoping that she would follow.
And run, she did.
She was tentative at first. And then, with a burst of self-confidence, she moved forward…Leaving me behind, sniffling and wiping my tears.
My friend, my sidekick, my partner in crime, was going to make it.
That was eight years ago…And from that moment on, we became inseparable.
She had a good life. Both of us did, and somehow, we learned from each other.
From keeping me company day in and day out in my office…Sleeping at my feet, curled up in a ball under my desk. To letting me know in no uncertain terms when lunch was ready…
Or to laying down for hours in front of the condo interior entrance door, waiting for my return when I went out for the day.
She was always with me. From the moment I woke up to bedtime. We did everything together. She was my shadow. Or better yet, we were each other’s shadow.
She was a clown. She seemed to be smiling all the time. She was an entity that only had love to give.
She was resilient. She was a trouper. She stood strong.
But then, she was getting older.
Understand that when I adopted her, she was already seven years old. That meant that I would not have the privilege of her company as if I had adopted her as a puppy.
Our time was limited.
She got sick sometime in the fall of 2020. Well, not sick per se, but you could see that something was not right. At least, that’s what I could sense.
I remember calling my veterinarian. And because of the Pandemic, they were booked solid at least six weeks in advance. And to top it off, emergency cases were taking precedence.
So yes, I had a choice. I could make an appointment for six weeks from then, and once she’d be there, they’d have to keep her for a few days for tests.
Which meant she’d be back in a cage.
I refused. There was no way I was going to leave her with strangers, stuck in a cage, while we were waiting for test results.
She was a rescue, and half her life had been precisely that.
I was not going to do this to her.
End of conversation.
So, I waited a bit and soon realized that there was another issue.
She was going blind. I could see the changes in her from day to day. Her assured steps were not as lively as they had been, and the little clown in her was now more a cry of uncertainty.
She was now fifteen, and her body was slowly giving out.
I finally made up my mind sometime in February. She would need to be euthanized. My buddy would have to go.
And as much as I tried to push back the obvious, the point was that she depended on me. She was my responsibility.
I had to make the decision. I had to make it happen.
And that I did in late March. By then, there was no doubt that she was at least 75% blind and not healthy.
So, I finally called the vet.
I remember the morning we left; I made sure she was as beautiful as when I had first met her. I cleaned her eyes, brushed her, and kept her close to me as much as possible.
She was quiet. More quiet than usual.
I wrapped her in her blanket, cuddled her, and off we went.
I stayed with her until her last moments and then asked to be left alone. Alone in that sterile room, where all I could do was be close to her, remember, and try my best to compose myself.
My buddy was gone.
It’s been now six weeks or so, and the condo seems so, so empty.
Granted, yes, we have four cats and one dog…but it’s not the same. There is no fluff ball going around asking to be picked up or paid attention to.
My partner suggested that we adopt another dog, and I refused. We live in a condo and will be moving by the end of June…There’s a lot on my plate right now…
And you know what?
I’m not ready.
She’s still in my heart. She will always be in my heart.