When I was about 6 or 7, I got bitten by a dog. He was my friend’s Cocker Spaniel, and from that time forward I really didn’t have much use for Cockers. I don’t even remember the circumstances of the bite. No doubt I did something to initiate it, but I really don’t remember. I just remember that for years I really didn’t like Cocker Spaniels.
When Sally, my Brittany, died in 2003, my other dog (a Golden Retriever mix named Sunny) was lonely.
I was out running errands one Saturday, and I drove past the Emporia Animal Shelter. For whatever reason, I stopped to see what dogs were available there. I wandered around looking at all the dogs needing forever homes, and spotted a sad little Cocker Spaniel hunkered down on a towel on the floor of her run. She really looked like she had lost all hope.
When I asked about her, this is the story the shelter manager told me:
Bonnie (then Honey) had been surrendered to the shelter a week before along with 2 cats. Her family had come to Emporia with the promise of a job at (then) IBP/Tyson. The job had failed to materialize, and they were living in their car, in 100-degree weather, with 3 kids, 2 dogs, and 3 cats. Clearly they had to do something, so they did the right thing. They found a home for their younger, smaller dog and one of the cats. Unable to rehome an 8-year-old Cocker Spaniel and the other cats, they had taken them to the shelter.
The family had been in tears when they surrendered the pets, but they knew that with limited resources, the children had to come first. The animals were all well groomed, and the cats found almost immediate homes. Bonnie, on the other hand, was 8 years old, a less desirable breed (I know, all dogs are good, but it is what it is), and in less than perfect health.
Bonnie had not eaten nor drunk anything in the week she had been there, and she refused to eliminate in her pen, and wouldn’t go outside on a leash. They said that they thought she had not urinated nor defecated since she arrived a week before.
I went into the pen and sat on the floor with her. She was very weak and very sad. I asked if I could have my vet take a look at her, and the staff all agreed that I could take her RIGHT THEN to the vet. I called, and Duane said to bring her over.
I put her on a leash and we started for the car. She immediately urinated and defecated on the way to the car. I put her in the back seat, and she made 3 circles and laid down.
The vet was only a few blocks away, and when I got her there, she peed and pooped again in their grass. My vet said that she was very weak, and didn’t appear to have much desire to live. I asked him if he thought she had anything communicable that she would give Sunny, and he said no, but that I really didn’t want to take on this dog. She was dying, he said, and she would be expensive for the little time she lived.
Well, I couldn’t leave her to die on a cold shelter floor, could I? I went back to the shelter, and when I started to take her out of the car, she started shaking. I told her to be a good girl, that she could stay in the car, and I’d go in by myself to do the paperwork. Then I called my significant other to tell him we had another dog, but she probably wouldn’t live very long.
I took her home, and after a great deal of peeing and pooping (all outside), she began to settle in with her new housemates (4 cats and Sunny).
She was wearing a collar with a rabies tag, so I called her vet in California. She had had regular care her whole life and was up to date on all shots. He seemed shocked that she had ended up in a shelter in Kansas since he had known the family for years. He agreed to fax her records to my vet (and did so immediately).
I fully expected to lose her quickly, but I made sure she had a comfortable place to sleep near me, and fed her good food, and a couple of weeks later she seemed to be doing fine except that she was losing her hair. I took her to the groomer, and Tonya suggested that she might have a thyroid problem, so we went back to the vet. Sure enough, she needed meds. The thyroid medicine cleared up the hair loss immediately, and as the joke in an old Monty Python movie says (imagine British accent), “She got better.”
When we were in the process of moving a couple of years later, she got out of the fence where we were keeping the dogs, and we thought we might not find her again. She was headed west, and my husband found her wandering down a street west of where she had gotten out. When he called her, she came, and so we got her back. Once we got moved, she showed no sign of wanting to wander again. I think she felt she was truly home.
The picture at the top of the page are from 2005 right after we moved to the country. She lived another 3 years. Unfortunately, she developed congestive heart failure, and drugs can only help for about so long. The day she passed, I was visiting my daughter on the west coast, and she went out into the yard to her favorite spot and just went to sleep and didn’t wake up.
I like to think her 5 years with us were good for her. They were certainly good for us. She taught me some important lessons about how unimportant breed is when looking for a dog. The best pets find you, and she called to me from the floor of that run just as surely as if she had come to the yard on her own. I don’t know why I went to the shelter when I did. I hadn’t really planned to get another dog right away, but something made me go that Saturday.
She was a true rescue.
On the verge of death, she lured me in to take her home. In return she gave us unconditional love and attention. It was truly a fair trade.
Sharol (a version of this was originally published in my blog at sharol46.wordpress.com)