Sunday, March 24, 2013

THE WORST SUMMER OF MY LIFE

A little voice keeps telling me it’s time, it’s time, it is time to write another blog for Planned Pethood. But I have continued to put this one off because it is so painful to relive. The summer of 2011 was sweltering, nasty, and miserable. But it wasn’t just the weather that was unbearable, it was a season of terrible loss for me.  Things began well enough, I was the proud pack leader of three incredible labs. Rudy was an elderly, happy black lab with pronounced arthritis. Imelda was a stunningly gorgeous, loving chocolate lab. Rocky was one of the most handsome, fabulous yellow labs I had ever seen. I had a complete set, not on purpose, but it was pretty cool to head to the park with a lab of each color.

All three of the dogs were rescued from some pretty crappy circumstances. When my beloved Lucy died, I knew I needed another lab after a few months of just Helga and me on our own. This was before my association with Planned Pethood and I found Rudy online. He was seven and his family threw him away because they were expecting a baby. It was their loss because he would have made the best nanny any kid could ask for. Anyway, they ditched him to a shelter out in the country. I was apprehensive when I struck out to get him. I told my boss if I was not at work on Monday, I was in a wood chipper out in deliverance-ville. Funny, but this was not too far from the truth. When I arrived, I asked to use the restroom. The response was, “oh you don’t want to go in there, we found a rat in there this morning”. As fast as I could, I threw the fee on the counter, snatched up Rudy, and got the hell out of there.

Imelda came to us from the pound as a foster dog. She was a puppy mill dog who spent her entire life in a cage, breeding. For whatever reason, she was no longer useful to these monsters, so they threw her into the pound to be euthanized. This type of cruelty is unimaginable but it was even worse with a lab like Imelda because she craved human companionship and love. She had the temperament of an angel; which sounds pretty corny but it was true. Everyone who met her thought they were so special because of all the attention she showered on them. I never really had the heart to tell them she treated everyone like that. She had a soft brown coat with exactly the same color eyes. I used to quote from the “Wizard of Oz” to her all the time, “Can you dye my eyes to match my gown?” When I went to the vet to pick her up, office manager Terry said to me, “this dog will never leave your house, you will adopt her”. I had recently lost my soul mate Helga, and Terry was right. She was only 4 years old so I knew we would have many wonderful years together.

Rocky who was six-ish completed my lab triumvirate. He was a foster dog from the pound as well. His was one of those urgent cases. He was going to be put down if we didn’t get him out of there immediately. He was picked up as a stray but the pound found his owners. When contacted, they dropped off his medication, then said, "keep him". You see he was prone to seizures and had to take medication twice a day which I guess was just too bothersome for them. Rockstar was just not getting the right kind of interest from potential adopters due to his disability so you know what happened next, he became part of the pack. He was hardwired to balls and toys. You would never see Rock without one or the other in his mouth. Joy is the word that comes to mind when I think of my big guy. He lived every moment of his life with joy and gusto.

I knew something was wrong when my sweet Imelda showed no interest in going for a walk. Having lived her life in a cage, the park was her favorite destination. She would stroll with the pack and occasionally half halfheartedly chase a squirrel or two.

Then she refused to eat- which set off warning bells. She went to the vet but they could not find anything wrong. As she continued to decline, we returned to the vet where she collapsed and died. I felt like I was trapped in a nightmare, in one of those tacky T.V. hospital dramas. They started CPR and other techniques until I told them to stop, to let her go. She died probably of lung cancer which xrays finally showed. She was only six.

It is still a mystery to me how anyone could dump a dog like Rudy. He was kind, loving, and affectionate. He welcomed each and every foster dog, showing them the ropes, allowing them to share his toys and bones. By the summer of 2011, he was 13 ½ and had painful arthritic hips and legs. He could no longer walk with the pack at the park but there was no way he was going to give up one of the pleasures of his life. So, when the pack got back, Rudy and I went on the senior walk every day. He was alert, eating well, and loving but his body was giving out on him. We had rugs on every tile surface so he did not slip and hurt himself. We created a step for him to get in and out of bed. We tried a variety of medications. I even gave him injections to relieve the pain. When even that failed to give him some relief, Bob and I took that last trip with Ru. After his favorite meal and a trip to the park where we had to lift him out of the car, he was put down so he would be finally out of pain. My wonderful, loving boy was gone.

After losing Imelda in June and Rudy in July, I clung fiercely to Rocky. He was my constant companion. I secretly believe he kind of enjoyed being an only child. Then one day he came in after a potty break with a bloody nose. He immediately went to the vet where he underwent some tests. Nothing conclusive showed up and the bloody nose was forgotten for a little while. But it came back with a vengeance and I just could not believe what was happening. It was some kind of a curse come to life. We had an appointment with a specialist for a procedure to scope his sinuses but he took a turn for the worse and we headed for the e-vet where she recommended we end his suffering. Rocks probably died of brain cancer.

This horrific summer took its toll on me. I did not adopt another dog for nearly a year. There were lots of fosters here in the meantime. I remember at one point there were five! One of them was a heart worm positive black lab named Ida who has become a permanent resident. Then Stanley, another heartworm positive dog, a shepherd mix decided he would stay here as well as part of the pack. Many adoptive families turn to Planned Pethood after they have experienced the loss of their companion. The right timing is different for everyone but in each and every case, my heart goes out to them. I have walked in those shoes. So many tears, such heartbreak. And Rudy, Imelda, and Rocky still live on in my heart. 


--Judy S

1 comment:

  1. Very nice tribute, Judy. So sorry for your losses.

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