Honoring a Dog’s Lifetime of Love
Often times in life, things happen that you can’t explain at the time. Then you get the chance to understand what it all means ten years down the road…..
In August 2002, I roamed the corridors at Capital Area Humane Society in Hilliard, Ohio. I had just gotten married and moved into our own place, and went looking for “my first dog.”
I found it strange, in this first shelter experience of mine, how there weren’t any puppies – all dogs there seemed to be older, bigger and/or stricken with a variety of “special needs.” I just assumed I’d go pick out some type of puppy and spent its whole life together.
I found a small jet black dog named Gigi. She was under 20 pounds and, though not a true “puppy” in age (they estimated her to be 1-2 years old – we later found she was actually 4-5 at that time), she was small and spunky and seemed like a good dog for a small townhouse apartment.
Come to find out, Gigi was just a couple days away from euthanization. Not for any major reason – she had just lived in the shelter a long time and no one was taking her. Why? Because she was a “special needs dog.” It turns out, Gigi was born without a left kidney or left ovary and slight reduced left lung capacity. Essentially she was born deformed and there was no telling how long she would be able to survive like that. Surely, she wouldn’t live as long as most dogs, right?
Well this news stabbed me in the heart. She was not on any special medications, nor did she need any treatments or surgeries….she looked like a healthy little thing and if I didn’t save her from death, who would? Apparently no one had felt it in their heart yet, but I sure did. I adopted her and immediately changed her name to Sassy, because she had a very defiant little attitude and it seemed fitting.
Sassy lived a very healthy life from that point on. She never had any issues, except for her selfishness for our attention. She’d bark her head off at the sight of any other dog. But that was literally her only transgression. It improved when we added a chihuahua/corgi mix (Taco) to our family one year later. And the problem evaporated when we added a chihuahua (Caesar) to our family four years later. She took him in like he was her own puppy and the two of them were thick as thieves for the next six and a half years. She also grew very close with Don, whom I started dating after my divorce, another senior beagle (Jake) whom Don brought into our Vegas home, and yet another Beagle (Daisy) who we adopted after she had been abandoned at a doggy day care. Sassy grew to love other dogs’ company in time.
The time came in August of 2010, after owning Sassy for eight years, where she finally showed a sign of health problems. She seemed to be developing some arthritis, and on top of this, had some inflamed disks in her spine. This caused her to walk as though she was dizzy or incoherent, but was treatable for almost three years with a light combination of medications. She continued to thrive.
Then in January of 2012, she randomly stopped eating. This was a dog who had been a real chow hound her whole life, and not just of food, but also of underwear, paper money, toys and literally any food in existence. So this behavior was the red flag that something was majorly wrong.
Sassy was diagnosed with kidney disease and diabetes in early 2012. Luckily, we were able to treat both with medicines and special diets. We had (and hope to have again – hint hint!) a fantastic veterinarian, Dr. Mark Beerenstrauch, who was amazing when it came to Sassy. She spent several days in the hospital with him, going through some periods of time when we would basically flush her system via IV to re-balance her system and get her kidney values back down closer to normal. During these times, Dr. B. would share his lunch with Sassy, because a lot of times, that is all they could get her to eat. He always knew how to make her feel better, and by the end of March we really had control over a regimen that seemed ideal for her survival.
But Sassy didn’t JUST survive- she truly thrived. Over the next seven months, this dog (now over 14 years old) played, barked, ran around, rolled around…….she was like a whole new dog. One we hadn’t seen in years. We cherished every last day of this “borrowed time” until her kidney disease eventually got the best of her. She passed away on Friday August 24, 2012 and there hasn’t been one day since where we haven’t spoken about her with both tears and laughter.
….and here we are in September 2012. After having loved and lost Sassy, and having spent all the time, money and energy we did to make sure her life was as comfortable and accommodating as possible, and having cherished every last moment that we could, we know now that we would go to any measure to do the same for another precious pet and their owner(s). And so, all because I chose a “special needs dog” and spent ten years loving her and going to the ends of our means for her care, a new company has been born. We are very close to a launch, at which time I can be more specific with details and information. But with this new adventure, I will transition from “poker player” into my true and constant passion, “animal helper.” Honestly I don’t know what title to even give this new job/venture. It is just interesting to me how things unfold. And if not for Sassy’s life, love, quirks, illnesses and subsequent passing, we might not have ever taken this next leap of faith.
More very soon, I promise!
Leave a Comment
You must be logged in to post a comment.