Tuesday, August 7, 2012

D is for Dog

Dogs have always been a part of my life. In my six and a half decades, I can count in months the times I have been without one.

This is the story of our girl Meeghan...

We  went into the pet shop to look...just look. 

Our beloved Yorkshire Terrier had died just three weeks previously, and a  large piece  of my heart had died along with Angel. I knew I could not bear to go through that pain again...I was done with dogs.


The shop was bursting with puppies that day – chubby, fluffy  wee dogs that did their bouncing best to get our attention. I barely glanced at them. Lost in thoughts of Angel, I was numb to the possibility of beginning again.

Turning to leave, we spied a scruffy black bundle cowered silently against the window while a much larger pup bounded on and around her. I caught her timid glance and felt something stir in me despite myself.  Michael asked them to bring her out, and once the shaky wee soul was in my arms, I was lost. The shopkeeper explained that this little one had been rescued from a puppy mill. As the ragged body pushed into me fearfully, he described the first three months of her life spent caged, unloved and filthy from lying in her own dirt. She was severely underfed, weighing only four pounds. I could feel every rib, every notch on her backbone...

There was no  considered decision to say yes or no; of course we could not leave her there. It was clear that she needed us. Even clearer to me, was the truth that we needed her.

Because it was St. Patrick's Day, we named our new girl Meeghan. Matted, dull-eyed and underfed, she was traumatized and fearful of everything.

As it turned out, I did not have to wait long for the pain I'd been trying to avoid. On the complimentary vet check provided, Meeghan was quickly diagnosed with a heart murmur...she had congenital heart disease that would prove fatal. The vet calmly suggested that we return her for a refund as she would almost certainly die  in a matter of months, if not weeks. It went without saying that since she couldn't be sold again, she would be euthanized, but not to worry, he went on...there were lots of cute and healthy dogs to choose from.

Meeghan had been mine for two days and  it was all the time we needed to bond. I was the first person to hold her. She trusted me from the start and I cherished her in return. There was no way I would give up on this little dog who'd never had a real chance at life. 
We immediately took her to our own vet, hoping for a miracle. He confirmed the diagnosis of Patent Ductus Arteriosus or PDA.

In humans and animals, a miniscule blood vessel that supplies oxygen to the lungs in utero should close at birth when the lungs fill with air. When it does not, the result is PDA, a condition that overworks the heart, fills the lungs with fluid and leads to congestive heart failure.

With Meeghan, her weakness and shortness of breath were all too obvious. She curled up beside my head on the pillow for safety and I lay every night with the sound of her speeding heart thrumming in my ear.

Our gentle vet offered two options: we could shower Meeghan with  love and attention...make her life joyous for the short time left before her heart gave out on her. Alternately, he could do open-heart surgery to try to close an incredibly small valve in a risky operation he'd done only twice before. The surgery would cost several thousand dollars and the chances were good she would not survive.

Neither my husband nor I hesitated for a moment. We had no idea how we could come up with the money, but we could either watch Meeghan suffer through a painful illness and die before she'd really lived...or put our faith in a doctor whose skill and compassion has been well proven. We simply had to give her a chance. 

The details aren't important, 
though it must be mentioned
that this wonderful
 veterinarian ended up 
charging us only a 
nominal fee for this 
complicated surgery. 

What matters most is that
 she survived the
 risky procedure and
 ultimately flourished.

 Four years later, she is a bouncy, 
spirited dog who loves her life 
and wrings joy out 
of every day!

She remains a scruffy girl in 
spite of constant grooming. 
As the runt of a Schnoodle  litter, 
she can enter no conformation 
shows.  Nor can we try 
for obedience or agility trials...our 
lackluster training skills being 
more to blame for a lack in
 that area than her obvious,
innate cleverness. 

No matter...we need
no certificate 
to know she's beautiful 
inside and out.

Meeghan is still hand-shy  
-she was clearly mistreated-
 ...is timid with strangers and rarely leaves my side. Her eyes search my face often in a day as if to reassure herself I'm still there. While she loves the rest of the family, there is no question she is my girl...we adore each other unreservedly.

Yes, my heart may be broken again one day, but I will always cherish this small saviour  who helped lift me from the depths of despair  when it seemed an impossibility...a precious companion who enriches my life immeasurably each day by her sweet and simple presence.

I am linking up to the wonderful ABC Wednesday. For a real treat, stop by to see more stories and pics from around the world...


I will be away the week this is posted, but will get back to everyone as soon as I can...


Kay L. Davies said...

Oh, Lynette, this made me cry, sad tears and happy tears both! I would love to meet Meeghan, but she might not want to meet a stranger.
She's so cute!
Luv, K

Leslie: said...

Oh my gosh! I echo Kay in that tears are in my eyes. I can feel your love of Meeghan and in her eyes I see her love for you! There is nothing like the bond between a dog and its leader. I still, to this day, miss my boxer Star who died in 1997. I haven't replaced her (she could never be replaced) but I think I will soon get another dog.

Katy Cameron said...

Aww, love your wee 'D' is for dog!

Debby said...

Sweet story. You rescued her for sure.
Your story is similar to mine with my Springer Spaniel. We rescued hi from the pound where we had recued another SS 13 years before. We had just lost that sweet girl. Our new puppy had parvo soon after we got home. I was not going to loose her. I nursed her back to health. Love this dog. He is my baby as well. So we definetly have alot in common.

Gemma Wiseman said...

O what a gorgeous story! Love how you both needed each other! The photos are just adorable too! A very moving post!

Roger Owen Green said...

such a sweet story.
I've had only one dog, but I know how much dog people love their canines.
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

craftyles said...

This is such a wonderful post and I loved every word. I;m so glad that everything turned out okay. I can relate-we have a precious yorkie who is 12 and I know that sad time will be coming one day. I'm so glad you saved Meeghan-lucky for you and her!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

You know how much I loved this post, Lynette - such a sweet and heart-tugging story, of this wee girl who rescued you when you rescued her. Horrible to think of her first months - no doubt they are the reason her eyes search your face daily, as if to reassure herself that she is, indeed, with you, and not back there.

aka Penelope said...

We went to a pet shop just to look once, too, and fell in love with a pet that would be our pal for years to come. We miss him to this day. I can see why Meeghan pulled at your heartstrings. She was lucky to find a good life with you along the way.

photowannabe said...

It's amazing how something so small and scruffy can worm its way into one's very soul.
Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

Wanda said...

Oh melt my heart, over and over as I read your story. We have loved and lost dogs in our 51 years of marriage, and not one was easy. But your story is a miracle of love and grace, and I could see from your face, if I was an animal, I would want you for my master.

Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story with a happy ending!!!

Andy David said...

Dear friend,
Beautiful story, beautiful heart...and yes, BEAUTIFUL dog!!

chubskulit said...

A trendy loving dog!

Catching up With ABC.

Daredevil Diva
Rose, ABC Wednesday Team

joanne said...

I wept thru the entire story....first because I know this loss, and then because poor Meghan had been treated poorly, and then because she was so very ill......then I wept with joy! She's a beautiful little scruffster, and I would have done everything you did!

Ella said...

I sit here crying, but I am know you were meant to be hers and she yours~
I am sad n' sorry to hear you lost Angel, but I believe Angel helped you find another one who needed you most~ I am a huge dog lover and I truly understand this unique bond~
She is beautiful inside and out! What a gift you have given her and she has given you and your husband ;D
XO Thank you for this amazing post!!!

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

I'm in tears also...suppose not the only one.

What a friendship, both sides needing, and giving. People that can see beyond the scruffy little thing that she was are a real treasure.

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

DeeDee said...

OMG! this brought tears to my eyes and so much love from my heart... I know this story.. and the love of a special dog is like no other... it changes your life as much as it does theirs... I love your story and the happy ending too... thanks for visiting me and my boys... I hope for many loving years to come with your special meegan...

Pat said...

What a wonderful comfort and friend you have in Meeghan. She is adorably cute. I'm glad you gave her a second chance at life and that she is healthy now.

I have only had one dog who was MY dog; I had Pascal for 14 years...She was part of our family from the newlywed years through the baby, toddler, and big boy years of our sons. She died in 1991 and I cried for 3 days. We had a couple of other dogs after that but we gave each of them away because of various behavioral problems and we've never had a dog again. We're gone too much, Jerry won't allow animals in the house, and we don't have a fenced yard, so I get my doggy fixes from our neighbors' dogs. I love them and they love me...Reina (golden retriever), Emma (mixed breed) and Jessie (German shepherd).

Sherry Blue Sky said...

This is so precious. Who saves who, indeed? This little being insisted your heart open to the painful risk of love and loss once again....and how many glorious years of love have been shared because you said yes. You had no choice, really. Once you picked her up, that was it. And trust you and Michael to choose just that one special girl when NO ONE else would have. (p.s. I love that your vet did the operation for much less, he is now one of my new heroes. Mine did the same when Jas needed surgery, charged only $700, no surgical fee. People are kind.) Even so, the aftercare costs sank me into further debt and eventually cost me my little trailer. But Jas has had five more happy years.)

crazy4atc said...

Beautiful story!