Part 1: An Open Letter
“Do you know what? I don’t understand you. I want to apologize for saying that, but an apology isn’t an apology if it’s followed by a ‘but’.
I’m sorry… BUT, I really don’t understand any of ‘your kind’ and why people are so committed to standing up for you, specifically. Okay, I’m not trying to discriminate against you, but right now, I can’t help it. So, yeah, okay, you’re sweet, but please be sweet over there so I can admire from afar. And can I be frank? Whenever you come home from being outside, you have a tendency to stink and that’s ALL I smell. Also, why do people think it’s okay that you are ‘right up there’ in my business, and it’s just you being you? Because, I’m really, really, really not comfortable with it…
If I have to be honest, I’m a cat person. Not a dog person.
I get it. Cats can be assholes. And, you are so loving; so willing to be loved, so ready for the next bit of affection I can show, so willing to follow me to the ends of the earth, but you are also annoying. No, you aren’t lying on my laptop or knocking over random glasses off the counter, but you’ve eaten my underwear, and when you get sick in the house, it requires us to rip up carpeting. Sure, the cats slowly picked away at my couch and sometimes seemed possessed in the middle of the night, but they were soft, and light and purred me to sleep, calming me when I thought that the world was about to crush me, and I miss them all time.
But, I was terrified, because I almost lost you because of a stupid sock.
Here you are, Dolce. The exact opposite of what I had ever known… You are our amazing dog. Our adopted, ‘rescue’ adult female mutt, with a tragic past—seized by animal control, because that owner left you outdoors with no food, no water, abused, completely frost bitten, to the point you had no fur on your tail or on part of your snout. It amazes me to think that your natural weight is around 75 pounds, but when you were rescued, you were barely 35 pounds, had recently given birth to puppies that were no were no where to be found…
Regardless of what anyone’s spiritual beliefs are, I believe that there should be a special type of hell for people who are cruel to animals like you. How could they do that to you? Do you remember? It seems like you do because every time we pick up the hose to water the garden or get the broom to sweep up around you, those things cause you to cower… were these ways that they hurt and abused you? I wish I knew specifically what they did to you, but maybe it’s better that I don’t… I’m so sorry they hurt you.
And by the way, no, I didn’t name you for DOLCE & GABBANA to sound like a brand name dog, but because you are the sweetest pup a person could ever ask for… and I don’t know why, but it’s been hard to admit that I need you in my life.
In my darkest hours, I’ve realized that I always had pets. When I think back to every single hard moment that I can remember, especially since I’ve been living on my own since I was 17, you fur family members were always what I remember as being the light in the those moments. You knew… you just knew something about me, something I didn’t understand, something I didn’t know what was going on, but it was like you made sense of it, and created a bridge for me to get to the other side of that moment. Regardless if it was the purring of the cats, or you coming over and placing your big head in my lap while looking up at me with your big, brown hound eyes, you guys always found me in the void. But you, Dolce, you made me a better person because through you, I truly I learned about compassion. And I almost lost you.
I know that I will probably out live you, as you are approaching 90 dog years. I know that my kids will. And I know that someday I will have to explain to them that you are gone. But that moment was waaay too close this time, and it made me realize—Because I love you, I can be a dog person too…
But, seriously, dog! You gotta stop eating socks.
Your human momma (who somehow miraculously picked you up out of the snowbank in the middle of a snowstorm with knees buckling post knee surgery because there was determination not to leave you in said snowbank, and carried you like a human baby, squeezing you to the point you pooped all over yourself and on this momma, blowing out a sock that had blocked you for multiple days even though the tests, X-rays and ultrasounds came back inconclusive, who now realizes your life was saved due to what is being called ‘poop heroics’ by your human daddy).
P.S. I would do it all again in a heartbeat if it meant you got to be a part of my life for a little bit longer.”
Part 2: The Incident
We are certainly not the only family that has a dog that consumed something it shouldn’t have, and we certainly won’t be the last. But I can tell you for sure, that I will never, ever, ever, take my socks off and leave them somewhere she can access.
She consumed the sock the week before my oldest son’s seventh birthday, although I didn’t know that’s what happened at the time. She had stopped eating, but kept drinking water and was still able to go out for a pee. But, after a few days, and it happened so fast, I could see her ribs, and she was struggling to get up. Her eyes started to haze over, and from minute to minute, I could see that we were losing her. I called the vet on the Friday, for the following Monday, but her condition was deteriorating too quickly.
After my son’s birthday party on Saturday, my husband took her to the emergency vet, and a whole lot of tests started. The vet couldn’t press along her belly, it caused her too much pain. But whatever was happening to her, she was so blocked up, that she actually vomited feces. The xrays, ultrasounds and other tests came up inconclusive, however, and they wanted to perform surgery, but at her age, in her condition, we didn’t know if she would survive it. The treatment otherwise would cost thousands of dollars and still could just lead to the need for surgery.
Against the recommendation of the vet, we told them we were taking her home. I don’t believe that the vet at emergency was trying to make us feel bad, and that she legitimately felt her recommendation was correct, but ultimately, it’s still a business. It wasn’t the money, per se, but it was definitely a consideration in the decision to take her home, if I have to be honest.
The vet was definitely urging us not to do it, because Dolce was obviously not well, but it was still our decision. We signed a waiver that indicated we ‘refused treatment’ so that they wouldn’t be held liable if something happened to Dolce. We told them it was my son’s birthday, and if something was going to happen to her, we wanted to be able to let him say goodbye and promised to bring her back if it got worse. We would not let her continue to suffer if that was the case.
Off we went home with painkillers for Dolce, heavy hearts, but also with desperate hope.
By Sunday night, we knew that she wasn’t improving. The painkillers seemed to help, but she could no longer hold her head up. The glassiness in her eyes showed a vacancy or something, is the best way I can describe it. We knew that the next morning when we went to the vet, the most humane thing to do would be to euthanize her. The kids had said their goodbyes, our parents who were around for the birthday, said their goodbyes, and we knew the next day, we would be doing the same thing.
I told my husband that I was going to take her out for one last pee before we went to bed. She wouldn’t go out with my husband anymore for those last few days, but for some reason, I could still get her up to go, stabilize her with a towel, as a kind of sling around her chest as she was too weak to stay upright and coax her out with me to pee.
Somehow, I dropped a side of the towel, or something (the memory of the towel part of my story is a little blurry), and she started to climb up into the snow bank! I kept trying to get her to stop, but she kept walking further away from me, and then all of a sudden, she collapsed on her belly, chin first and would not get up. I tried to call for Marc, but he couldn’t hear me, and so, even though my knees were still recovering from surgery, one specifically, I climbed up into the snow bank, because I was NOT leaving her in the snow. I refused to take my eyes off her even for a second, because I thought, oh god. This is it. She’s about to die.
I tried to pick her up, but I couldn’t scoop
her, she was physically too big for my arms. All I could do was pick her up
like a child, belly to belly, with one arm around her waist, and the other on
the back of her head, in case she tried to wiggle out of my grasp. I can’t
imagine how much pain I put her in, pressing her waist, as I started to clamber
through the snow bank, feet sinking deep, falling twisting that one specific knee,
but I was determined to get her out.
And all of a sudden it happened. I won’t go into the gruesome details, but she had a bowel movement so strong, that it dislodged the sock and literally had the impact radius of a bomb that you could see in the snow. I got her to the pavement and placed her down, and yelled frantically into the house for my husband.
The rest of the night was surreal. We were up until almost 4 am in the morning. My husband washed her in the stand up shower downstairs, (which she would normally hate, but was too weak to escape), I started a fire in the woodstove, got in the shower, and mindlessly pet her head until I went to bed.
I didn’t know it at the time, and I’m still embarrassed to say it, even now, but I saved my dog’s life. My husband named it poop heroics, which sounds less cocky to me, so that’s what I say too.
I don’t know how much time she will have left. She’s still an old, big breed mutt, but that night, has given us more time with her, which I am forever grateful…
Part 3: The History
My dear dog, Dolce…
Almost four years after my hubby and I had been in a car accident, just months after we had gotten married, we started researching the possibility of getting a dog. Plus, what may seem unrelated, we finally decided that my vertigo from my head injury was manageable. That meant we also felt safe to try and have a baby because we weren’t as worried about me falling an injuring myself while pregnant and I could be physically active with having a dog. We did conceive a child, but I ended up miscarrying the baby, in a very emotionally traumatic event… a story for another time.
I’ve always had my cats, my hubby always
had dogs, but after he purchased his house, years before we got married, he
decided not to get a dog until after we were married and my cats and I moved
into the house and got settled first. But, if I have to be honest, my monitoring
of shelters got more intense after we lost our first baby.
We discussed a lot about breeds, the size, the sex of the dog, the age. I looked into different rescues across the country and we started to volunteer to walk dogs at the local shelter. Ultimately, my husband only wanted a pure breed male puppy that would be great outdoors, active and preferably a lab.
Who we adopted, however, was an adult female mutt. She had been seized by animal control because her owner left her outdoors in the middle of winter, starving. Animal control saw no signs of food, or water. She was frostbitten on different parts of her body, and was so thin that she looked like she was only skin and bones. They thought she was pregnant, but upon examination at the vet, she definitely was not any longer, but had recently given birth. Unfortunately, there were no signs of puppies at the residence where she was taken from.
So essentially, we adopted the exact opposite of what my hubby envisioned we would have as part of our family, which still brings a smirk to my face. He knew that I had been monitoring the shelters and when I told him that I wanted to go see and walk this dog (who also was apparently good with cats, since I still had two cats), he knew we were coming home with her before we even went.
People don’t believe that Dolce is a rescue. She fits our family in such a way, that you would think that she was always there, and like pets do, she has a positive impact on my mental health. So, when we look at her, we wonder, who saved who? Not my quote, but something that resonates with me quite profoundly. What my hubby and I were fortunate enough to realize was even if there is an image of what the perfect pet looks like, there are a lot of Dolces in the world. And it’s a gift to be chosen by that rescue to be the new family.
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From the bottom of my heart, thanks for reading!
Sarah, The Depressed Mom Boss