What I Learned From the Dog That Wasn’t Supposed to Live

Sometimes, all of the odds are against you.  Sometimes, no matter how hard you fight for something, you still lose.  This story is about a feral mutt who beat the odds and stole my heart.

Heidi came in to my life back in the middle of January.  I heard about her from a post in my rescue Group on Facebook.  Someone had posted and said that Heidi and her 9 puppies would be put to sleep if they did not secure rescue by noon that day.  Heidi and her pups were not doing well in the shelter and they were showing signs of illness.  The other big problem (which I found out later) was the fact that Heidi was a wild dog.  The city had been trying to catch her for 2 years as she run “at large” through Kansas City.  When I heard the news, I jumped in with both feet and a very sentimental heart and I wanted to help.  I called my vets office and asked if they would take Heidi and her 9 puppies in and they agreed to help.  I posted back in my group that I had secured boarding if someone could pull her under their rescue.  That’s when things got really crazy.  The management of the shelter was very reluctant to let Heidi and the puppies go because of the possible danger of spreading illness and the fact that Heidi hadn’t done so well when it came to showing what type of dog she was.  Well, she showed people something and it wasn’t what I learned about her in the coming weeks.

Heidi was transferred to my vets office and the plan was for her to be boarded for a few days and then her and the puppies would be transferred to a foster home.  Destiny had other plans.  Within a day, Heidi’s health took a turn for the worst and we were losing her.  In an effort to save her, the vet’s office took the puppies away and placed them in cages above Heidi.  We worked very hard to save her and while we were doing that, the puppies started becoming sick.  One by one, the pups would start coughing and sneezing.  The staff at the veterinarian’s office stepped up and split the puppies in to pairs and took them home so they had 24 hour care.  Instantly, the ladies became full-time mothers, with everything that comes with it.  If they decide to have children now, we’ll see!

In the coming days, one by one, the babies left this earth to go and romp at the Rainbow Bridge.  I’ve heard it’s an amazing place but really, I wish they hadn’t of left.  Each day after work, I would drive to the vet’s office and sit next to Heidi’s cage and encourage her with love and boiled chicken.  She wasn’t big on being touched in the beginning but I guess I grew on her like a fungus.  As time passed, she became more and more willing to interact with me.

After 2 1/2 weeks, Heidi recovered and was ready to leave the vet’s office.  When her tests results came back, it was overwhelming what this dog fought to stay alive.  Heidi had tested positive for Mycoplasma, Adenovirus, Canine Herpes and Parainfluenza.  Alone, they are terrible diseases but to combine all of them together, it’s a miracle that she survived.

I decided to take Heidi home with me because I thought she would have the best chance of learning with someone she already knew.  I felt like she trusted me and I knew that would be a big hurdle in teaching her how to live among people.  That first day, we carried her to my car and she shook so bad I thought she was having a seizure.  She was so scared that when we got home, Heidi actually commando crawled from my garage, though the downstairs living room and into my teenager’s room.  Once she spotted his bed, she jumped on it and that is where she stayed for a few days.  Gradually, I introduced new things to her and ever since I have seen her personality shine.

That dog that was never supposed to be alive, learned how to really “live” and she taught me how I am supposed to live, too.

There are those quiet moments when I am standing outside and begging and pleading with her to make a poop.  I look to the heavens in an attempt to seek out those 9 babies at the Rainbow Bridge so I can ask them for a little help.  While they typically ignore my pleas, I did get to notice how amazing the stars are on a cool, clear night.

I’ve learned patience… or at least how to fake it.  Crating Heidi has been like trying to get an old man’s balls to not pop out of his shorts.  Every time you push one back in, one falls out the other side.  Every single time I try to fix her crating/kenneling issue, she finds one more way out.  After getting a plastic carrier, I am hopeful that it will be the equivalent of a pair of sweat pants for an old guy.

I’ve learned that “shit happens”… eventually.  Just sometimes eventually is after hours of walking, praying and pleading.  Sometimes, “eventually” comes at midnight, after you have been roaming around the neighborhood in an Ambien induced haze.  The plus about the Ambien is that you really don’t realize that you’ve been outside for 2 hours.  The down-side is that you tend to stumble over leashes easily and fall face first into mounds of poo.

I have built a tolerance of cold… sorta.  I like to bitch and moan about going outside but once I am out there, I tend to do okay.  Now when I return, that’s a whole other story.  I shake like I have Parkinson’s.  The plus side: I can give one hell of a hand job.

I learned that it is possible to take a dookie INSIDE of a humidifier.  Yeah, I was puzzled at first.  Imagine my shock when I got home and found that the dog had climbed up on the humidifier and took a giant poop, right on top of it.  How she managed it, is beyond me.  I know I couldn’t crap with hot steam blowing up my bum.  So, watch out for humidifiers!  Apparently, they are doggie bidets.

I was taught to pay a little more attention when I am putting together a wire crate.  There is a latch to hold the bottom tray in for a reason.  Neglecting to catch that caused me to come home to a poop masterpiece.  Heidi had pushed the bottom tray out, took a crap and then proceeded to slide the tray back and forth over it.  When I went home for lunch I found that mess and brown paw prints on the wall.  Not a good start to the afternoon.  Plus side:  I know what to use to stamp cute paw prints on letters for my bill collectors.

I learned that I should be more careful when walking on spots where carpet once was.  It seems that there are nice wooden strips covered in nails which hold your carpet and pad into place.  I guess when something eats the carpet and pad, all that is left is those nice strips.  The down-side: it hurts like a mo’ fo’ to step on them.  The plus side: my foot is really well exfoliated.

I learned that it’s best to avoid a flying dog that is trying to play with you, even if you think they are just a big, harmless pooch.  With what I equate to the skills of a ninja assassin, Heidi lunged at me and sliced my leg open.  Plus side: I hated those pants anyway.

Most of all, I’ve learned that those things in life that we think we can’t overcome can actually be beaten.  Even if the odds are stacked against you, with a little encouragement, you can beat anything.

I know I will be adding more to this… but for right now, this is surely enough to get you to thinking!



Posted on February 8, 2012, in Posts. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Of all the things I have learned and seen in my years of dog rescue . . . the visual of floppy, old short-clad human testicles is the most unexpected.

  2. .. . and thank you for yet another super read.

  3. Oh, I can’t get the tears to stop! The things that these animals do for us are literally life changing. You were sent an angel.

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