Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ruger: Part II

After Ruger was signed over, it was time to figure out what was wrong with him.  Everyone knows K9 Justice League goes all out when it comes to saving the broken dogs.  Instead of being sent home with some dewormer and a few cans of A/D, we prepared to do everything we could to fix him.  He had radiographs.  Lots and lots of radiographs.  We did a barium series.  He had a fecal done in house, one sent out to the lab.  He was dewormed, put on different medications for various issues, poked and prodded by multiple vets.  Ruger had blood work done and fluids given.  But after everything, he was still sick.  He initially started with diarrhea and a very tender abdomen.  The brown baby was skeletal and hardly acted anything like a puppy.  He began vomiting.  It was extremely difficult to get him to eat or drink anything at times.  Then there were days that he'd have a normal bowel movement, start acting like he felt better, and began eating.  Then two days later, he was going downhill again.  I couldn't understand why he would improve, then decline, improve, then decline.  Was I doing something wrong?

It was love at first sight with Ruger.  I was already dreading letting him go to a new home when he got better.  WHEN he got better.  But he never did.  From the beginning, I was convinced that he had an obstruction.  It was just that motherly instinct, I guess.  Many of his tests weren't indicative of having one, though, and cutting open a 5-week-old, emaciated, sick puppy isn't exactly the first thing vets want to do.

In the end, Ruger was rushed into exploratory surgery after spending a little under 2 weeks with me.  Finally, my sweet boy was going to be fixed.  He was going to get better and grow up and be the amazing dog I know he would have turned out to be.  He'd hang on to that sweet, selfless personality... but he'd be adventurous and drive-y, too.  And, oh boy... was he going to be HANDSOME when he grew up.

But Ruger didn't get to grow up.

They found what was making him sick.  It was a nylon collar that he had eaten... but the frayed pieces had grown into his intestines.  The vets tried to think of every option, but there was nothing they could do.  There was no way they could remove every piece of thread and repair every hole in his fragile intestines.  So that was it.  I got the call from Jessica and had to speak the words I dread so much.  "I guess we don't have a choice.  We have to let him go."  I could hardly speak.  Bethany was working that night, and she gave him a kiss and told him that we all loved him before the vet relieved him of his discomfort before ever waking him up from the anesthesia.

My heart dog was gone.  My Little Ruger Boy was gone.

I still kick myself to this day for not insisting that he had an exploratory done.  But I'm not a vet.  He had every test under the sun done.  But I can't help from feeling like if I had been more assertive in my idea that he had an obstruction, that maybe he'd still be here today.  Perhaps it happened like it was supposed to.  That Ruger was only supposed to be in my life for that short amount of time before he left.  And maybe he left that way... because that was the only way he could.  He was meant to be my dog until the very end, even if that end was only within a matter of a couple weeks opposed to an entire lifetime.  I miss that puppy every single day, and I think of him often even though so much time has passed.  He was a very special piece of me, and he took a huge piece of my heart that will never be repaired.

He knew love from many people, and that's what's important.  He didn't die in a pen after starving and dehydrating to death.  Ruger was surrounded by love at all times, by every person that met him.  Because he was just that special.

Monday, April 13, 2015


It was December 5th of 2013.  My hands were full... as usual.  I had my own four dogs: Brody, Jackson, Lyla, and Paige... and a my basket case of a foster dog, Lu.  As if my own dogs weren't enough to handle with a full time job, Lu was icing on the cake.  Don't get me wrong, I loved her dearly... but she was a lot of dog., and onn top of that, Lyla despised her.

I was working at the vet clinic and loading rooms for Dr. Mapes that day.  We had a client we hadn't seen come in with a young puppy who was presenting with some sort of illness.  He was underweight and weak.  The owners couldn't get him to eat.  But he wasn't their pet.  He wasn't a family member.  The brown puppy was the product of their doing; a mix of a German Shorthaired Pointer and a Chesapeake Bay Retriever.  Bred for some reason or another.  I'm not really sure.  Maybe to make some amazing hunting dog or something?  Or maybe simply to make $300 off each puppy after I discovered their "Puppies for Sale" advertisement on Craigslist.

As I cradled him in my arms like a baby and stared into his incredible eyes, I could only hope that they would do right by this dog.  He was just a puppy.  He hadn't experienced hardly anything yet.  And it was at that moment that I was staring into his eyes that the woman spoke up, "You want him?"  Part of me was caught off guard.  The other part was laughing at the insanity of it all.  "I wish I could... but I have five dogs at home already."  The vet did the exam and offered some options.  My job was done, so I left the room before hearing the end result.  The wheels in my head were turning.  What would happen to him?  Would he get the radiographs and medication and care that he needed?  The vet came out and revealed that they didn't have the money to spend on expensive diagnostics.  He'd be going home with a few cans of A/D and some dewormer.  That was it.

This puppy was going to go home and die.  He'd starve to death... or something.  And they sure as hell weren't going to bring him back to have him euthanized if that's what it came to.  One of my co-workers told me to ask the owner if she had been serious about giving him to me.  And I honestly can't remember if I texted the rescue before or after the fact, but I walked to the front text and asked.  The woman handed the puppy over the desk... and that was it.  He was mine.

I named him "Ruger", and he was my soulmate.  That brown puppy took a huge piece of my heart with him.  Most of you know his story already, and I don't have the energy or heart to finish telling it tonight.  But I'll continue tomorrow.