“Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished.” — Dean Koontz
I did not grow up around dogs. In fact I had a mother who thought that dogs were to be kept outdoors, and for whom dog hair was tantamount to a natural disaster. Being the rebellious teenager that I was I finally managed to convince her that I needed a dog. With my own money and my mothers somewhat begrudging permission I went to a local shelter and adopted my first dog Ramsey. He was just 9 weeks old at the time, and though I didn’t know it we would spend the next 17 years together.
Ramsey was my constant companion through the most difficult years of my life. He was by my side during times when I battled alcoholism and depression. He was my comfort and security when PTSD from a violent attack had me literally unable to leave my home. Sometimes I think that if it weren’t for him then I wouldn’t have made it through the many disastrous events and downward spirals that marked those years.
In December of 2014 Ramsey died at the ripe old age (for a dog) of 17. It was the day after Christmas. I had laid down to take a nap, and he laid down beside my bed and passed quietly in his sleep. The pain I felt at losing him convinced me that I would never want another dog in my life again. How foolish I was then to think that the human heart is incapable of love after loss. If Ramsey knew I am sure he would have smiled his knowing doggy smile at me.
Eight months later I adopted an Alaskan Malamute mix named Mojo from a local rescue group. Then just two months later I adopted a husky mix from another rescue. Gabby, our husky, was supposed to be “Mojo’s dog”. I decided to get a second dog so that Mojo would have some canine companionship, but I had no idea how much Gabby would wiggle her way into our hearts.
Gabby became my snuggling partner on dark days. Even though the first three years of her life were unkind she showed an endless capacity for devotion and love. Anytime she was in a room with me her eyes were on me as though waiting to see what I wanted to do next; whether it was take her for a jog, on a bike ride, or just lay on the floor for some belly rubs. In just a short time I could not imagine my life without her in it.
Then the unthinkable happened. Gabby got sick. What we thought was a run of the mill illness turned out to be something far more serious. She needed to have two emergency surgeries, blood transfusions, eight days in the emergency vet clinic, and countless other things in order to survive. Her bills went from simple, to serious, to outrageous in a matter of days. As I sat across from doctors who told me she would die without these treatments I couldn’t understand how any of this had happened.
I’ve heard plenty of stories, we all have, about owners who have a pet put down or sent to a shelter because of medical bills. I used to scoff at those stories and think that the people in them were heartless and cruel. What I never realized was how difficult a position this is to be placed in. I was about to get a crash course in many things over the weeks to come.
There was never a question in my mind that as long as the vets thought Gabby could have a long and happy life that I would do whatever it took to give that to her. For me putting her down was not an option. Yet I see now how the choice to pay for veterinary medical expenses can really change your life.
I am not a wealthy person. For the past four years I have been setting money aside to save for “the future”. A future. Something to get me out of the place that my history of mental illness and difficulties has left me in. I was looking forward to a new life, a new career, and new adventures with the dogs. Then in an instant all of that was gone. The vet bill took all of it and much more and I gave it over willingly.
No matter what imagined future I was working towards I simply could not imagine a future without Gabby in it. I have heard it said that the reason you shouldn’t give up on the love of a dog after the dog has passed is because they would want you to give your love and home to other dogs in need. In the last few weeks I have thought of that a lot. I think that Ramsey would have respected my decision. I think this was my opportunity to give of myself the way that Ramsey always gave himself to me.
If Gabby had ended up in another place or with another person then maybe her life would be over. Maybe not, but just the same I’m glad we don’t have to find out. Her life was saved, and I’ve been working to try to fundraise some of the money for her bills. I still don’t understand how some people give up on their beloved dogs, but I do understand now what a difficulty such events can be; especially when they are sudden and unexpected.
This situation was something that could have been devastating in many ways. Instead it has had a very positive impact on me. I have discovered how willing people are to help you when you have a problem; not all people but many of them. I have found that people are more understanding than you might give them credit for; not all people but most of them. And I have learned that the hearts capacity for love is just about endless if you open yourself up to it. Not just for some people, but for all of them.
More info: savegabby.moonfruit.com
I adopted Gabby from a local shelter because my other dog needed a friend and I never anticipated that she would wiggle her way into our hearts so quickly
Gabby became my snuggling partner on dark days. She showed an endless capacity for devotion and love
Then the unthinkable happened. Gabby got sick. What we thought was a run of the mill illness turned out to be something far more serious
Mojo & Gabby before the storm
She needed to have two surgeries, countless blood transfusions in order to survive. Her bills went from simple, to serious, to outrageous in a matter of days
One of my visits when Gabby was in the ER
There was never a question in my mind that as long as the vets thought Gabby could have a long and happy life that I would do whatever it took to give that to her. For me putting her down was not an option
Gabs and her doctor on the morning I had to transport her from one hospital to another
I am not a wealthy person, yet I simply could not imagine a future without Gabby in it
Gabby looking very ready to leave the hospital
If Gabby had ended up in another place or with another person then maybe her life would be over
Her life was saved, and I’ve been working to try to fundraise some of the money for her bills. If you want to help Gabby get back on her feet please visit our website for more information
Gabby home at last and enjoying her first bubbles!