Saturday, July 6, 2013

It's A Dog's Life

There were a few things that Glenn and I discovered that we had in common right off the bat. One was that we both loved ketchup on our scrambled eggs, olives in anything, and all things canine. By the time I met him I think he had had at least a dozen dogs in his life, not including the ones that were strictly his children's. Growing up, I was dog-crazy as some girls are horse-crazy. Unfortunately, my family didn't share my passion. When I met Glenn, I was still on my first dog, a loyal, perfect Golden Retriever named Megan. In1999 she became gravely ill at the age of 13, and was helped out of her pain by a veterinarian who had just opened his own practice here in Brainerd. It was a Saturday night, and he was the only vet I could get to answer an emergency call. He treated her, and us,with dignity and humanity. And through the following years, his practice grew and flourished. And the Derbys  strutted more than a few dogs (and a cat) through his doors on Foley Road.

Here is a list of our pets we've had just since we have lived in Brainerd: Jipp, a neurotic Bernese Mountain Dog, Pal, a blind Springer, Charlie, a dog from the Reservation, Annie and Shelly-(2 labs that Glenn felt sorry for because their owner was never home), Gus, a dog I fell in love with at the pet store, Mr. Toes- a 6-toed cat that we rescued from in front of Christmas Point one year, Boo, steady solid rag-a-muffin Boo, and finally Abi, a dog Glenn found at a rescue site on-line.  And this is her story.

One Friday in October of 2010, I came home from school to find Glenn "smitten" with a Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier on a rescue site. The connection was strong, and although I didn't understand it because life was so easy with our little portable Boo, I honored it. The next day, we were in Maplewood, MN meeting Amy, whose name I changed to Abi as part of her new life. They told us she had "issues." She had already snarled and snapped at someone that morning. He wanted that dog; I had hesitations. We brought her home, got her back to health, and Glenn worked tirelessly with her, socializing her all over town. She made great strides...great strides...but just when you thought she was rehabilitated, she showed some aggression. Unexpectedly. She got obsessively protective of our home, our car, and most especially Glenn. She was intelligent and knew that the grandchildren were "his" , so they were never in danger. But the cable guy, with whom minutes before she was playing was all of a sudden a target because he reached in at G in a way she found threatening. Glenn and I had begun the conversation about Abi; he felt that he had done all he could, but the abuse she suffered early in her life just couldn't be erased or ultimately overcome. We talked about the strangeness of having a dog you couldn't  really trust. All our other dogs found new homes better suited for them, or were ill and died. This was new territory. We kept putting off the decision.

Abi's personality changed for the worse when Glenn died. She reverted back to a lot of old aggressive behavior. I tried- I really did- the vet had her on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication. And yet everyday, her behavior got stranger. She wouldn't eat much, or smile in the way dogs do. Yesterday she almost bit my friend who was helping me move some furniture, cried at me in a way I'd never heard from a dog, and last night she aggressively fought with my niece's dog, without provocation. Today she went after the movers.  She was miserable and I truly believe was ultimately turning into a danger to others.

I called my vet today,  now a long-established friend, wondering if he would be on call for the weekend. By grace he was. He assured me that my instincts were correct-he told me that the only thing he didn't want me to feel was guilt. Glenn gave Abi three years where she felt as happy as she could possibly be, considering the damage that had been inflicted on her by other humans. If not for Glenn and his unbending belief that love and forgiveness can cure most things, she would have been put down long before today.

Abi went to heaven  peacefully and without suffering. I believe she is finally free from fear, anxiety and pain.  And probably asking Glenn, " Dude...who are these other dogs? I thought I was your favorite." Yep....answer that one Big Guy. Remember....she bites.
RIP Abi Derby. Loved you tons, because really, aren't we all broken in some way?