On December 20, 2014 a healthy and energetic four month-old Rottweiler/ Labrador mix named Bailey joined our family. She has been wonderful addition, but in the months leading up to her adoption a huge debate had been swirling inside my head. I worried if I should adopt another dog with special needs or one that is able-bodied. This story is how I made my decision to adopt not only a healthy dog, but my first puppy in twenty years.
To fully understand my reasons for adopting Bailey I thought I should take you back to wintertime 2013. Sophie’s health had taken a dramatic downturn because of a tumor that was growing in her stomach. Because of her paralysis she wasn’t in pain, but she started to lose weight and was becoming fussy about eating. (One day when I’m ready I’ll share that story too.)
As Sophie was getting sicker our 14 year-old dog, Shadow, was also showing signs of aging. Shadow was a beautiful and gentle shepherd mix that had two loves in her life; my husband Ken and her best buddy Sophie. I can’t tell you how hard it was to see both girls hanging onto their last days of life.
Shadow’s arthritis was getting worse every day and combined with a history of hip dysplasia, she was barely able to walk. Our daily outings to give her a little bit of exercise consisted of walking three houses up the street and three houses back down the street in painfully slow steps. An x-ray of her hips looked like a big shiny star rather than a socket and joint because of the many bone spurs.
Shadow took up residency in my closet which we spread out with sheets to protect the carpet from her increasing accidents. Finally on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2013 Shadow refused my help to stand up and was in extreme pain.
Ken and I gently placed her in the car for the last time as we drove to the veterinary hospital. She died peacefully in our arms. One month later on April 20, we said our final goodbye to Sophie.
In the months after that Ken and I thought we could heal and be spared from having to say goodbye to another pet for many years. The cats were only 6 years-old and our dog Cody was still in good health. We weren’t very lucky because on October 20, 2014 our cat Sport died from a sudden blood clot. His death left Ken and me in shock for weeks. We now watch over Sport’s two littermates, Spike and Tiger, like hawks.
So, I hope you’ll understand why I made the choice to adopt a healthy puppy.
When I originally thought about adding a new member to our family many months ago, it seemed natural to look for a dog with disabilities. After all, I had five years of experience under my belt with a special needs dog.
Then the Dog Coordinator from my rescue group, Heaven Can Wait Animal Society, showed me a picture of a litter of puppies. We had taken the six newborns into our care along with their mother when they were only a few weeks old. The family was first fostered at our office and once they were weaned each went to live with an inmate at the women’s correctional facility. Our Pups on Parole program has placed a thousand dogs that way.
One day I found myself worrying how Bailey and her siblings would do in a home setting for the first time. And even though I am older and haven’t raised a puppy in twenty years, I decided to show Ken pictures of the puppies. He smiled when he saw Bailey’s photo and commented how much she looked like Shadow.
After that the deal was sealed. I couldn’t stop thinking about our new little puppy and I followed her progress until the day she was ready to come home.
Hope you’ll read more of The Lessons about Sophie’s life.