Today I have three dogs, but a year ago I had four. All of them are rescues, the youngest was 2 when we got her, the oldest 14. Each dog has its own sad story…but all of them found happiness with us.
The first dog was Nash (pic 01). When I moved half way around the world I had to leave my little dog behind…the vet said she was too old to travel such a distance in the hold of a plane…so I delayed my trip until I found and transitioned her into a new home. But that left me alone and friendless in a new country and, after wheedling my dog-fearing new husband a bit, he finally relented and said I could have a dog…ONE dog. I spotted an ad in a local ad circular about an old woman who devoted her life to rescuing unwanted pets who had died suddenly, leaving more than 20 animals in need of a new home. Her daughter and granddaughter were taking over her vocation. Within a day, the woman showed up at my door with the cutest little Maltese. He was able to win my husband’s heart and by the end of the week we had agreed to take Nash.
Immediately, something was wrong. He was uncommonly thin and his breath would wilt flowers! I took him to the vet who said the dog was on the verge of sepsis from a mouth infection! The very next day almost all of his teeth were removed and he went onto a 6-week antibiotic regimen. Today he is a plump little ball of curly white fur who thinks my left thigh is his personal perch. He’s now about 12 and creaky and cranky, but still a darling little dog. I cannot believe someone could leave this dog behind…if I moved to the UK tomorrow, you can be sure I’d take him along, quarantine or no quarantine!
Next was Candy (pic 02). Nash had one really bad habit we couldn’t find a cure for: whenever we left the house he howled non-stop until we returned. He had “failed” several placement because of it and we were at our wits’ end until my husband had a brilliant idea…get him a girlfriend! So, my Valentine’s Day present for 2005 was a wild-eyed ruffian of a rescued street dog, through the auspices of the SPCA. She was a terror! She and Nash hated each other on sight! She was rough and mannerless, her fur was yellowed and she smelled bad, she stole things from the house and hid them in the garden (I still have 2 pairs of reading glasses missing!) Eventually, however, Candy began to settle down. We took her to the groomers and I was amazed at the beautiful dog that was under all that smelly, matted fur! It took time and discipline and love, but today Candy is a sweet little dog…if still rambunctious and full of the dickens! She and Nash are unseparable (We call them “the Maltese Mafia”) and Nash hasn’t howled even once since she joined the household…seems the problem is that he was lonely and scared, and bringing Candy into his life was all it took to make him feel secure again.
Then came Sasha (pic 03). Sasha is a sad story. When we had had Candy for a year or so, my friend with the private rescue service called me and asked me if I could take another dog. I was reluctant…Candy was still aggressive and snappish, especially with strangers. Then the bombshell was dropped: Sasha was Nash’s sister and they had been raised together for 6 years! When their owners emigrated, the dogs were split up into two homes. No wonder Nash howled when left alone!! I agreed to take Sasha on a trial basis, but Nash recognized her right away and his sheer joy and excitement at having her back literally brought tears to my eyes. Sasha stayed. Unfortunately, she had not been loved by her second family. They maid this dainty little dog sleep outside, she had no collar or tags, no jersey for the cold nights. And her timid, hang-dog mannerisms were heart-wrenching. We had her for 18 months when she died unexpectedly from liver failure. We suspect the previous owners had fed her that melamine contaminated food…if only we had known, we could have put her on regular visits to the vet to monitor her liver. The good news, however, is that during the last 6 months of her life, Sasha began to loosen up. The tense wariness mellowed out into a little dog who loved to be held and liked to sleep on my pillows, like a little princess on top of her stack of mattresses. We started calling her “Princess Doggie” and she wriggled in delight when I called her that and lifted her up onto the big bed. We had her cremated and her pretty little urn is in a cupboard with her collar around the top of it.
Finally, there is Trinny. Trinny broke the Maltese mold for us…she’s a Fox Terrier with the most beautiful doe eyes you have ever seen, I belong to Yahoo’s Freecycle group and one day I came across an ad looking for a new home for a dog. She had two days to live, as her family was emigrating to the UK and if nobody took the dog, they were going to have it killed. I casually asked my husband “Would you like a Fox Terrier?” he asked me why and I read the ad to him. “We can’t allow that!” he said and the next day Trinny was dropped off with a minimum of ceremony. She was bewildered at first, and of course the other dogs hated her (they don’t like newbies but eventually they get over it.) Trinny was 14 and had lived with the same family all her life. She had lived in a small flat in a beach town and was walked twice daily. It took her a while to realize that she could run free in our 1400msq garden…she spent her first week on the patio! A year has passed and she is now a spunky, funny old dog. She’s never been able to manage those gangling long legs of hers, so she is always sliding around corners on the tile floors, but she lopes easily with her little pack, patrolling the perimeter. Last month she had two surgeries, one of them removed a tumour the size of my fist from her belly, but she’s already back to her bouncy ways. Fifteen years old and still an active, happy dog.
So, there is the story of my family of pets. Sasha has been gone almost a year and I still miss her…my heart hurts when I think about her. There are links to some blog entries about her below.
Thanks for this opportunity to tell you about my sweet little dog babies.
Cape Town, South Africa
Here are some more pics!
Thanks for sharing your story Sweet Violet! …// HART